WTBS 12 – Introducing EM Cases Conflict of Interest Policy

Whenever discussions about conflict of interest (COI) come up, one of the first questions that’s inevitably raised is why are we focusing only on financial conflicts and ignoring all the other kinds. That’s a fair question. What about intellectual conflicts or ones based on political leanings? Why are we implementing a COI policy? Is it really necessary? I thought it best to answer that question by having COI expert Joel Lexchin express his thoughts on this subject for us in this month’s guest post to Waiting to be Seen...

By | 2017-02-06T16:27:03+00:00 February 6th, 2017|Categories: EM Cases, Emergency Medicine, Waiting to be Seen|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

WTBS 11 – Keeping Score: Providing Physician Feedback

What does the evidence say about the true utility of physician performance feedback and scorecards? Do they meet a real need for information to guide self-improvement or just scratch our competitive itches? What do we know about the best way to provide feedback? In this month’s guest blog Dr. Amy Cheng, the Emergency Department Director of Quality Improvement at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto with an interest in physician performance feedback, reviews what’s known and comments on her own experiences...

WTBS 9 – EM Quality Assurance Part One: Improving Follow up from the ED

This is Waiting to Be Seen 9 on EM Cases - Improving Follow up From the ED, Quality Assurance Part 1. We all face the challenge of how to manage final reports that arrive after the patient has been admitted or discharged, but some EDs are more organized and diligent than others in systematically addressing their obligations in this area. In this two-part guest blog, Dr. Lucas Chartier, an emergency physician in Toronto, will discuss best practices in departmental organization in part one and the obligations of the individual physician in part two. No ED will ever be perfect, but there are some positive lessons to share and we likely all can do better in reducing risks related to test result follow-up.

Episode 85 – Medical Clearance of the Psychiatric Patient

Psychiatric chief complaints comprise about 6 or 7% of all ED visits, with the numbers of psychiatric patients we see increasing every year. The ED serves as both the lifeline and the gateway to psychiatric care for millions of patients suffering from acute behavioural or psychiatric emergencies. As ED docs, besides assessing the risk of suicide and homicide, one of the most important jobs we have is to determine whether the patient’s psychiatric or behavioral emergency is the result of an organic disease process, as opposed to a psychological one. There is no standard process for this. With the main objective in mind of picking up and appropriately managing organic disease while improving flow, decreasing cost and maintaining good relationships with our psychiatry colleagues, we have Dr. Howard Ovens, Dr. Brian Steinhart and Dr. Ian Dawe discuss this controversial topic...

WTBS 8 – Succeeding With the Dirty Task of Hand Hygiene Promotion

Succeeding with the dirty task of hand hygiene promotion How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? The punch line to that old joke is, of course, “One—but the light bulb has to want to change.” But just as it’s tough to get patients to modify their behaviour (quit bad habits, take up good ones, comply with their meds, etc.), it’s also difficult for ED leaders to get their staff to alter their practices for the better. One example I find many EDs struggle with is improving hand hygiene. Despite what research has shown, some staff may believe they wash their hands plenty, thank you very much. Others may accept the evidence but struggle to remember to comply with hand hygiene guidelines, or competing priorities in a busy shift may get in the way of even the best of intentions. Access to a sink or supplies may be a problem when we provide care in hallways or waiting rooms; on the other hand, we may encounter patients stealing and drinking unsecured hand sanitizer. (Practice tip: If a patient becomes more intoxicated or less responsive after arrival in the ED, they may have consumed sanitizer.) In this month’s guest post, Dr. Mike Wansbrough, a colleague of mine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, talks about his journey as our department’s “hand hygiene champion” (which means I was smart enough to delegate this thankless task to someone else—thanks, Mike!). Mike is a creative guy, so when he faced frustrations in trying to change the “light bulbs” that are my medical staff, he thought an online movie in this era of YouTube sensations might help. A link to the short film is provided below; the content has been researched and vetted by infection control experts and is only four minutes long. You are welcome to use it if it helps with your own hand hygiene efforts. I plan to make it mandatory viewing for our staff. Do you have other tips, suggestions, or resources on this issue to share? Please share them in our comments section so we can all learn from each other!

WTBS 7 – Is Triage Obsolete?

Triage as a system of managing patient flow in the emergency department seems to be under attack. For instance, Dr. Shawn Whatley, a colleague of mine in Ontario, recently published the book No More Lethal Waits, which criticizes the current approach to triage and has received a fair bit of media attention. The first step Dr. Whatley proposes to improve ED access is to “revamp triage” and “close the waiting room.” Also, in 2015, Dr. Rick Bukata, a well-known American emergency physician and educator, wrote an article titled: “Has triage become an intrusive waste of time?” Dr. Bukata’s question was rhetorical; his answer was a firm “yes.” Are these ED physicians right? Is triage obsolete? I will explore the parts I think they have right and where they and others go wrong in this blog.

WTBS 6 Measuring Quality – The Value of Health Care Metrics

A New York Times article titled “How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers” went viral on social media in January and caused a lot of chatter in medical circles. Its author, a professor of medicine at the University of California, gave voice to a wide sense of frustration, and while I understand that feeling and think it’s justified, I don’t agree with labelling measurement as the culprit. As I expressed in my first WTBS blog post, “Why Recording Time to Initial Assessment is Worthwhile,” I believe my job as an administrator is to make the job of my staff easier, and measurements can help us maintain standards of care and understand where gaps in the system may exist—when such data are collected and used appropriately. In this guest blog, Dr. Lucas Chartier, an emergency physician in Toronto with a background in quality improvement, expands on the subject of how we’ve gone off course in our zeal for measurement and helps us try to find the path back to our intended goals.

Episode 70 End of Life Care in Emergency Medicine

Most of us in North America live in cultures that almost never talk about death and dying. And medical progress has led the way to a shift in the culture of dying, in which death has been medicalized. While most people wish to die at home, every decade has seen an increase in the proportion of deaths that occur in hospital. Death is often seen as a failure to keep people alive rather than a natural dignified end to life. This is at odds with what a lot of people actually want at the end of their lives: 70% of hospitalized Canadian elderly say they prefer comfort measures as apposed to life-prolonging treatment, yet as many as ⅔ of these patients are admitted to ICUs. Quality End of Life Care in Emergency Medicine is not widely taught. Most of us are not well prepared for death in our EDs – and we should be. There’s no second chance when it comes to a bad death like there is if you screw up a central line placement, so you need the skills to do it right the first time. To recognize when comfort measures and compassion are what will be best for our patients, is just as important as knowing when to intervene and treat aggressively in a resuscitation. Emergency physicians should be able to recognize not only the symptoms and patterns that are common in the last hours to days of life, but also understand the various trajectories over months or years toward death, if they’re going to provide the high quality end of life care that patients deserve. So, with the help of Dr. Howard Ovens, a veteran emergency physician with over 25 years of experience who speaks at national conferences on End of Life Care in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Paul Miller, an emergency physician who also runs a palliative care unit at McMaster University and Dr. Shona MacLachlan who led the palliative care stream at the CAEP conference in Edmonton this past June, we'll help you learn the skills you need to assess dying patients appropriately, communicate with their families effectively, manage end of life symptoms with confidence and much more...

WTBS 4 – Emergency Physician Speed: How Fast is Fast Enough?

Racing legend Mario Andretti famously said, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” He was talking about cars, but to many beleaguered emergency physicians trying to keep up with the patient queue, emergency medicine often seems this way. This guest blog on emergency physician productivity began as a question to our national association, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP): Are there any national standards with respect to emergency physician productivity, i.e., expected number of patients assessed per hour? The question was referred to the CAEP Public Affairs Committee and triggered a lively email discussion among our members....

Health Equity, Trust and Data Collection in the Emergency Department

I view the emergency department as a safe refuge, a modern-day secular sanctuary. We are the one health-care service that never turns anyone away; we provide shelter to the homeless on cold winter nights, safety for battered women, and food for the hungry. I have always felt this “sanctuary” role was part of the core mission of the ED, one with a great potential for improving lives, or at least providing comfort.