Reducing Malpractice Claims in the Emergency Department

This following information was originally published on the Coverys website in a white paper titled Emergency Department Risks: Through the Lens of Liability Claims.  Coverys, an A rated insurance company, is the malpractice insurance carrier used by Wapiti Medical Staffing. 

Coverys has supplied the following insights from the report:

This report, developed by Coverys’ business analytics and risk management teams, analyzes emergency department (ED) closed malpractice claims across a five-year period. It identifies areas of greatest vulnerability during the ED episode of care, examines the root causes of claims using data-driven insights, and provides risk recommendations that directly address issues identified.

Key findings include:
  • To reduce diagnostic risks in the ED, practitioners should focus on three key areas: 1) history and physical examination, 2) the diagnostic decision-making process, and 3) ensuring that the patient evaluation is ongoing throughout the ED episode of care.

  • Coverys recommends implementing a formal medication management and safety program specific to the ED, as 49% of all medication-related allegations involved antibiotics, opioids, and anticoagulants.

  • One key recommendation to mitigate diagnostic risk between history and physical evaluation of a patient is to implement clinical decision support tools, such as practice guidelines for high-risk presentations.

  • Practitioners and staff should work to enhance communication handoffs at all transitions of care based on policy. It’s also important to structure communication for patient information to avoid miscommunication errors and improve patient outcomes.

  • Ensuring that patient evaluations are ongoing throughout the ED episode of care, communicating clearly and efficiently between lab and radiology professionals, ordering physicians, and other providers is recommended to lessen the risk of permanent or grave injury and/or death. Clearly communicating results with the patient, family, and/or representative is also recommended. 
For more information, read the full white paper on the Coverys website.

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