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Leaving the Emergency Room in a Fog (Sep-09)

Consider this scenario:

Alfred made a visit to his local Emergency Room. What was his diagnosis? What did the medical team do for his problem? What was he supposed to do to continue care at home? And what symptoms was he supposed to watch for to alert him to return to the ER?

Alfred woke up at 4 am on Sunday morning with pain in his left foot. That place where his new running shoes had rubbed a raw spot earlier in the week was getting worse. By 9 am, the foot was red and swollen, with a large oozing sore, and Alfred decided to go to the Emergency Room at his local hospital.

Late on Sunday afternoon, Alfred returned home from the ER. He crutched his way into the house and collapsed on the sofa. His teenage son quizzed him.

"What did they say was wrong?"
"Oh, an infection," replied Alfred.
"Well, what did they do for it?"
"I think they cut a chunk out of my foot," said Alfred.
"Whoa! Did they give you any medicine?"
"Yeah, a shot," said Alfred.
"And what’s with the crutches?"
"I’m supposed to use them for a while," said Alfred, looking annoyed.
"How long a while?"
"It’s written down," said Alfred, digging a crumpled sheet of paper out of his pocket.
"Says here you should take some prescription and elevate your left leg for two days."
"Two days? I have to go to work tomorrow," groaned Alfred.
"And you’re supposed to go back to the ER if you have a fever or pain in your leg. Where’s the prescription?"
"Here, look through my wallet. Maybe I stuck it in there," said Alfred.
The good news is that Alfred recovered completely, with some assistance and cajoling from his son. But how common is it for people who go to the Emergency Room to be foggy about what happened and what they should do once they leave the ER?
What do you think is the percentage of ER patients who do not understand at least one of the following: their diagnosis, the emergency care they received, their discharge care, or their return instructions?
 
  • 38%
  • 48%
  • 78%
  • 88%

How do your answers compare?

A recent study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that 78% of emergency room patients showed deficient comprehension in at least one of these areas:
 
  • Diagnosis
  • Emergency care that was given
  • Post-ER care needs
  • Symptoms that would require a return to the ER
51% of patients showed deficient comprehension in two or more areas. Only 22% of reports from patients were in complete harmony with what their care teams reported in all four areas. The biggest area of misunderstanding was in patients' post-ER care needs, such as medications, self-care steps, follow-up from their regular doctors, or follow-up with specialists.
 
Even more alarming is that, according to the study, "most patients appear to be unaware of their lack of understanding and report inappropriate confidence in their comprehension and recall." The patients were quite sure of what they knew 80% of the time—even when what they knew was not right.
 
These results suggest that Emergency Room teams need to do a better job of making sure that patients go home with clear information and instructions—and that patients and their loved ones shouldn't leave until they fully comprehend their situation.
 
Lead author Kirsten G. Engel, MD, conducted this study, "Patient Comprehension of Emergency Department Care and Instructions," with Michele Heisler, MD, Dylan M. Smith, PhD , Claire H. Robinson, MPH, Jane H.Forman, ScD, MHS, and Peter A. Ubel, MD, most of whom are affiliated with CBDSM.
 
The researchers carried out detailed interviews with 140 English-speaking patients who visited one of two Emergency Departments in southeast Michigan and were released to go home. These interviews were compared with the patients' medical records, and the comparisons revealed serious mismatches between what the medical teams found or advised and what the patients comprehended.
 
"It is critical that emergency patients understand their diagnosis, their care, and, perhaps most important, their discharge instructions," says Kirsten Engel, a former UM Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar who is now at Northwestern University. "It is disturbing that so many patients do not understand their post-Emergency-Department care, and that they do not even recognize where the gaps in understanding are. Patients who fail to follow discharge instructions may have a greater likelihood of complications after leaving the Emergency Department."
 
Peter A. Ubel, the study's senior author, agrees: "Doctors need to not only ask patients if they have questions, but ask them to explain, in their own words, what they think is wrong with their health and what they can do about it. And patients need to ask their doctors more questions, and even need to explain to their doctors what they think is going on."
 
Read the article:

 

Dr. Jason Karlawish, Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss his forthcoming novel, "Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont" on Thursday, October 20, 3-5 pm, at the Biomedical Research Science Building (BSRB), Room 1130.  "Open Wound" is a fictional account of true events along the early 19th century American frontier, tracing the relationship between Dr. William Beaumont and his illiterate French Canadian patient.  The young trapper sustains an injury that never heals, leaving a hole in his stomach that the curious doctor uses as a window both to understand the mysteries of digestion and to advance his career.  A reception will follow the talk, and books will be available for purchase on site from Nicola's Books.  The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, the Center for the History of Medicine, and the University of Michigan Press.  Click here for more information about the book. 

Funded by the National Institutes of Health/Princeton University

Funding years: 2009-2013

The goal of this proposal is the development of “bottom-up” measures of daily experience, combining elements of time sampling with detailed episodic reinstantiation of events. Future use of the measures includes research into well-being and age-related changes in activities and experiences. I will (1) design methodological studies for the development and validation of these measures (Event Reconstruction Method, Day Reconstruction Method, and future variants); (2) develop the question program for pilot studies using the measures; (3) supervise the implementation of the pilot studies in form of web-based self-administered questionnaires; (4) participate in meetings in Princeton; and (5) present and publish relevant results.

More information: http://micda.psc.isr.umich.edu/project/detail/34823

PI: Norbert Schwarz

Mon, June 06, 2016

A recent internet study on the effect of the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) on vaccine acceptance and trust was featured in "The Conversation." This study found telling participants about VAERS, without having them read the actual reports, improved vaccine acceptance only very slightly. However, when participants read the detailed reports, both vaccine acceptance and trust in the CDC’s conclusion that vaccines are safe declined significantly. This was true, even though the vast majority of respondents believed that the vaccine caused few or none of the reported deaths and disabilities.

For the original study:

Scherer LD, Shaffer VA, Patel N, Zikmund-Fisher BJ. Can the vaccine adverse event reporting system be used to increase vaccine acceptance and trust?. Vaccine. 2016 May 5;34(21):2424-9.

Research Topics: 

CBSSM Co-director Scott Kim, MD, PhD, has recentlybeen funded by the NIH for a project on therapeutic misconception and the ethics of sham surgery. Ethicists have raisedconcerns that elderly patients with a progressively debilitating disease suchas Parkinson’s disease (PD) may be too vulnerable for research that involvesnovel, invasive interventions thatuse a controversial masking design, i.e., sham neurosurgical controls. Arethese subjects laboring under a therapeutic misconception, erroneously believing that research, rather than being anexperimental procedure for the sake of creating knowledge to help futurepatients, is actually a novel form of treatment intended to help them? Dr.Kim’s project will study four actual PDclinical trials that involve a sham surgery control. Collaborators include R. DeVries, K. Kieburtz, R. Wilson, S.Frank, and H.M. Kim. Pilot funding came from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, is the senior author on a study led by Donna M. Zulman, MD, that reveals about a third of doctors and their patients with diabetes do not agree on which of the patient's health conditions is most important. In the study, 38% of physicians (compared to 18% of patients) ranked hypertension as the most important condition. Patients were more likely to prioritize symptoms such as pain and depression. Read the article, in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, here. Read a press release about the article here.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) invited three speakers to provide their insights on the importance of professional ethics and professionalism in neuroscience research on February 10th. The speakers included Nicholas Steneck, Ph.D., Director of the Research Ethics and Integrity Program of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research; David E. Wright, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Peggy Mason, Ph.D., Chair of the Society for Neuroscience’s Ethics Committee.

Read More

Brian Zikmund-Fisher, Sarah Hawley, Reshma Jagsi and others were recently published in a JAMA Oncology research letter on breast cancer patient risk communication. They found that medical oncologists were found to be far more likely than surgeons to quantify risk estimates for patients and that patients who do not see a medical oncologist may make treatment decisions, including surgery, without all relevant risk information.

For the full article: http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2491464

 

The new, enhanced UMHS Ethics committee was featured in the Office of Clinical Affairs "Chief Brief." According to the article, "ECCA members complimented the committee’s improved access to ethics consultation services, focus on proactive and preventative ethics education, and unification of adult and pediatric efforts. Since the programmatic rollout, there has been a 45 percent increase in clinical ethics consultation volume from the prior year, and an 82 percent increase from average of the prior five years." Dr. Andrew Shuman and Dr. Christian Vercler are the co-directors of CBSSM's Program in Clinical Ethics. Dr. Janice Firn is the clinical ethicist who manages the program on a daily basis.

Mon, October 02, 2017

Sarah Hawley, Brian Zikmund-Fisher, and Reshma Jagsi are co-authors of a recent study published in Medical Decision Making, which was highlighted in MHealth Lab. Their study found that talking to clinicians is the best way for breast cancer patients to understand their recurrence risk. They also found that clinician discussions about recurrence risk should address uncertainty and the relevance of family and personal history. Kamaria Lee is first author of the article.

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