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P085: Remember that patient you saw last week – Characteristics of patients experiencing unanticipated death following emergency department discharge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2020


R. Hoang
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON
K. Sampsel
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON
A. Willmore
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON
K. Yelle-Labre
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON
V. Thiruganasambandamoorthy
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON
L. Calder
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ottawa, ON

Abstract

Background: The emergency department (ED) is an at-risk area for medical error. We measured the frequency and characteristics of patients with unanticipated death within 7 days of ED discharge and whether medical error contributed. Aim Statement: This study aimed to calculate the frequency of patients experiencing death within 7 days after ED discharge and determine whether these deaths were related to their index ED visit, were unanticipated, and whether possible medical error occurred. Measures & Design: We performed a single-centre health records review of 200 consecutive cases from an eligible 458,634 ED visits from 2014-2017 in two urban, academic, tertiary care EDs. We included patients evaluated by an emergency physician who were discharged and died within 7 days. Three trained and blinded reviewers determined if deaths were related to the index visit, anticipated or unanticipated, or due to potential medical error. Reviewers performed content analysis to identify themes. Evaluation/Results: Of the 200 cases, 129 had sufficient information for analysis, translating to 44 deaths per 100,000 ED discharges. We found 13 cases per 100,000 ED discharges were related and unanticipated deaths and 18 of these were due to potential medical errors. Over half (52.7%) of 129 patients displayed abnormal vital signs at discharge. Patients experienced pneumonia (27.1%) as their most common cause of death. Patient characteristic themes were: difficult historian, multiple complaints, multiple comorbidities, acute progression of chronic disease, recurrent falls. Provider themes were: failure to consider infectious etiology, failure to admit high-risk elderly patient, missed diagnosis. System themes included multiple ED visits or recent admission, no repeat vital signs recorded. Discussion/Impact: Though the frequency of related and unanticipated deaths and those due to medical error was low, these results highlight opportunities to potentially enhance ED discharge decisions. These data add to the growing body of ED diagnostic error literature and emphasize the importance of identifying potentially high risk patients as well as being cognizant of the common medical errors leading to patient harm.


Type
Poster Presentations
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians 2020

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