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Tuesday March 22, 2022  |  Brant Roth, President, The Sullivan Group

Reducing Medical Errors with Physician-Centric EHR Integrations

Recent surveys and articles paint a gloomy picture for the healthcare workforce in the US. According to a recent USA poll, 23% of healthcare workers say they are likely to leave the field soon. Medscape’s most recent survey identifies emergency medicine as one of the specialties experiencing the highest burnout rates, jumping from 43% in 2021 to 60% in 2022.

In the face of these workforce challenges, it is also essential to assess the potential impact on patient care and safety. Research suggests that physicians experiencing burnout are twice as likely to make a medical error.

In 2019, the World Health Organization categorized burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. While burnout was a concern before COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

According to an ACEP October 2020 poll, 87% of emergency physicians reported feeling more stressed since the start of the pandemic, and 72% reported experiencing more burnout on the job.

Diagnostic Errors and the Financial Impact

Among medical errors, diagnostic error is one of the most glaring safety problems in healthcare today, particularly in emergency medicine.

As outlined in The Sullivan Group’s whitepaper on the dangers of diagnostic error, the frequency of this problem is significantly underestimated by malpractice claims. A recent publication from Johns Hopkins shed light on the diagnostic error rate for specific conditions:

  • 62% for spinal epidural abscess
  • 28% for aortic aneurysm and dissection
  • 20% for pulmonary embolism

According to a recent Medscape poll, 26% of emergency physicians think they make a diagnostic error every shift.

Diagnostic errors are the leading type of paid medical malpractice claims filed against emergency physicians, costing approximately $288,000 per claim filed. Before the onset of COVID-19, the medical malpractice insurance marketplace increased premiums due to the increased frequency of high severity cases. In fact, the projected loss rate for hospital professional liability increased by 30% (Occupied Bed Equivalent from $2,960 in 2020 to $3,850 in 2021) and increased by ~15% for emergency medicine (from $5.92 per patient visit in 2020 to $6.81 in 2021).

As a result of this market pressure, healthcare organizations are increasing their self-insured retention layer to lower their total cost of risk. Large health systems (>$5B in gross revenue) increased their self-insured retention limits by 34.5% ($8.4M to $11.3M), and medium ($2B–$5B) and small (<$2B) health systems increased their limits by ~8%.

Risk Mitigation, System Solutions

Given the current workforce challenges in healthcare and the impact on the quality of care and cost of care, many hospitals are looking to software to help resolve these challenges. To that point, MEDHOST’s partnership with The Sullivan Group aims to support acute care hospitals in mitigating their openness to medical error risk via MEDHOST’s EDIS platform.

The integration focus on several key areas essential for reducing risk and the potential for patient harm:

Triage: The Sullivan Group defined a series of ‘Seconds-to-Minutes’ emergencies that can often be overlooked by nurses working in triage, especially in the face of COVID.

Nursing Documentation: Helping nurses identify potential key clinical considerations and supporting their documentation practices is critical to facilitating teamwork in the ED.

Provider Documentation: The Sullivan Group’s research into gaps in clinical practice and documentation offers a framework for identifying where providers are at greatest risk for diagnostic errors.

Vital Sign Functionality: During the entire patient visit, clinicians should maintain a front-of-mind awareness around vital signs and their importance on suggesting more severe underlying conditions that occasionally get overlooked.

Discharge: Prior to discharge, the entire ED team should feel confident that they are sending home a patient where all high-risk conditions have been considered and ruled out.

To learn more about how MEDHOST and The Sullivan Group work together to help improve patient safety and alleviate clinician burnout by reducing the likelihood of medical errors, email us at inquiries@medhost.com or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with one of our specialists.

About The Sullivan Group

The Sullivan Group (TSG) has worked with over 1,000 acute care facilities, has been used by 95,000 clinicians, and has an impact on over 20 million patient visits annually. Their RSQ® Solutions platform is used by some of the nation’s largest hospital systems to successfully reduce adverse outcomes. The TSG Innovation Lab partners with organizations in the healthcare technology space, resulting in co-development of new products and greater exposure to solutions that impact patient safety and improve patient outcomes and patient experience. www.thesullivangroup.com

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