Residents, interns and trainees are more likely to make medical errors when there is a lack of communication between a team of caregivers and when a more experienced supervisor isnt there, according to a new study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and printed in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Additionally, errors were found to be more common when a patient is transferred from one level of care to the next, the study shows.
Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Department and university medical schools studied 889 closed malpractice claims that were reviewed between 2002 and 2004. The reviewers had determined whether injuries had occurred and, if so, whether they were because of errors involving medical trainees. The cases focused largely on obstetrics, surgeries, missed and delayed diagnoses and medications.
Of the 889 cases, more than one-fourth, 27%, involved trainees whose role in the error was considered to be important, according to the study. Medical residents were involved in 87% of those cases, while interns and fellows each were participants in 13%. Whats more, the consequences were serious: with one-third of them resulting in death.
This study reminds us that we have a lot to do to ensure that hospitals are providing appropriate supervision to trainees and implementing team-training programs, both in the inpatient and outpatient setting, AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy said in a written statement. -- by Matthew DoBias
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