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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:

 

Is your well-being influenced by the guy sitting next to you? (Nov-03)

Rating your satisfaction with your life may not be a completely personal decision. See how your satisfaction rating may be influenced by others.

When answering this question, imagine that there is someone in a wheelchair sitting next to you. They will also be answering this question, but you will not have to share your answers with each other.

How satisfied are you with your life in general?

Extremely satisfied 1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9       10 Not at all satisfied

How do you compare to the people surveyed?

You gave your life satisfaction a rating of 1, which means that you are extremely satisfied with your life. In a study done where people with a disabled person sitting next to them wrote down their life satisfaction on a questionnaire, they gave an average life satisfaction rating of 2.4, which means they were very satisfied with their lives.

What if you'd had to report your well-being to another person instead of writing it down?

In the study, half the people had to report their well-being in an interview with a confederate (a member of the research team who was posing as another participant). When the participants had to report in this way, and the confederate was not disabled, the participants rated their well-being as significantly better than those who reported by writing it on the questionnaire in the presence of a non-disabled confederate (2.0 vs. 3.4, lower score means higher well-being). The scores given when reporting to a disabled confederate elicited a well-being score that was no different than that when completing the questionnaire in the presence of a disabled confederate (2.3 vs. 2.4).

Mean life satisfaction ratings, lower score means higher satisfaction
Mode of rating well-being Disabled confederate Non-disabled Confederate
Interview (public) 2.3 2.0
Questionnaire (private) 2.4 3.4
What caused the difference in well-being scores?

When making judgments of well-being, people (at least in this study) tend to compare themselves to those around them. This effect is seen more when well-being was reported in an interview than when the score was privately written down, due to self-presentation concerns. A higher rating was given in public so as to appear to be better off than one may truly feel. Note that the effect was only seen in the case where the confederate was not disabled. While well-being ratings were better overall with a disabled confederate, there was no difference between the private and public ratings. Social comparison led to a better well-being judgment, but it appears that the participants were hesitant to rate themselves too highly in front of the disabled person for fear of making the disabled person feel worse.

Why is this important?

Subjective well-being is a commonly used measure in many areas of research. For example, it is used as one way to look at the effectiveness new surgeries or medications. The above studies show that SWB scores can vary depending on the conditions under which they are given. Someone may give a response of fairly high SWB if they are interviewed before leaving the hospital, surrounded by people more sick than they are. From this, it would appear as though their treatment worked great. But suppose that they are asked to complete a follow-up internet survey a week later. Since they do not have to respond to an actual person face-to-face, and without being surrounded by sick people, they may give a lower rating than previously. Is this because the treatment actually made their SWB worse over the longer term, or simply because a different method was used to get their response? The only way to really know would be to use the same methodology to get all their responses, which might not always be feasible. These are important considerations for researchers to keep in mind when analyzing results of their studies. Are the results they got the true SWB of their participants, or is it an artifact of how the study was done? And is there a way to know which measure is right, or are they both right which would lead to the conclusion that SWB is purely a momentary judgment based on a social context?

For more information see:

Strack F, Schwarz N, Chassein B, Kern D, Wagner D. Salience of comparison standards and the activation of social norms: Consequences for judgements of happiness and their communication. British Journal of Social Psychology. 29:303-314, 1990.

CBSSM affiliated faculty & fellows are well-represented at the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) Annual Meeting. Presentations below by Stephanie Kukora, Naomi Laventhal, Lauren Smith, Ed Goldman, Raymond De Vries, Chrsitan, Vercler, Andrew Shuman, Sally Salari, Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Susan Goold and Reshma Jagsi.

- - -

Presentations:

Stephanie Kukora, MD
"Pre-conference workshop- Re-imagining Communication: Using Medical Improv to Boost Your Skills for Clinical Ethics Consultation"

Stephanie Kukora, MD/ Sharla Rent, MD
"Preparing for Periviability: When Does Life Begin in A Global Context?"

Christin Lawrence, DO; Dalia M. Feltman, MD, MA; Naomi T. Laventhal, MD, MA
"Uncertainty at the Margin of Gestational Viability: How Does Ethical Culture Shade Decisions for Infants in the Gray Zone"

Naomi T. Laventhal, MD, MA; Christin M. Lawrence, DO; Stephanie K. Kukora, MD
"The Many Faces of Prognostic Uncertainty: A Case for a Broader Model of Antenatal Consultation"

Lauren Smith, MD/ Ed Goldman, JD
"Dr. House: Ethical and Legal Issues Faced by Doctors Identified in the Media"

Naomi Laventhal, MD/ Phoebe Danziger, MD
"The Martyred Mother: Creation and Perpetuation of Gender, Racial, and Socioeconomic Bias in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit"

Ray De Vries, PhD
"Embracing the Electronic Fetal Monitor: The Treacherous Pursuit of Certainty in the Uncertain World of Birth"

Janice I. Firn, PhD, LMSW; Naomi Laventhal, MD; Katherine Feder, MS; Salomeh Salari, MS; Kunal Bailoor, BA; Christian Vercler, MD, MA, MA; Andrew Shuman, MD
"Expanding the Role and Institutional Impact of Hospital Ethics Committees Through Practical Application of the Three-Tiered, Proactive Ethics Framework"

Christian Vercler, MD
"Snapchat Surgeons & Normal Genitalia: Parallels with the Freak Show"

Kayte Spector-Bagdady, JD, MBE
Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Affinity Group

Christian Vercler, MD
"The Narrative turn in Surgical Consent"

Susan Dorr Goold, MD
"Does Deliberation Make a Difference in Setting Health Priorities?"

Stephanie Kukora, MD
"Use of Medical Improv with Clinical Ethics Consultants
to Foster Role Insights, Perspective-Taking, and Communication Skills"

Phoebe Danzinger, MD/Naomi Laventhal, MD
"All-Natural, GMO-Free Babies: Tensions Between Parent and Clinician Uncertainty in the Prevention of Neonatal Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding"

Katherine J. Feder, M.S.; Salomeh M. Salari, M.S.; Elizabeth Karikomi, MSW; Naomi T. Laventhal, M.D., M.A.; Janice I. Firn, Phd, MSW
"Use of Preventative Ethics Rounds to Anticipate Ethical Dilemmas in the ICU: Implications for Critical Care Culture, Patients, and Hospital Ethics Committees"

Naomi Laventhal, MD
"Dismissal as an Acceptable Response to Vaccine Refusal: Ethical Considerations of the AAP Clinical Report, "Countering Vaccine Hesitancy"

Lauren Smith, MD/Reshma Jagsi, MD
"VIP Medicine: Ethical Issues in Concierge Medicine and Fundraising"

Kunal Bailoor, BA; Salomeh Salari, MS; Janice Firn, MSW, PhD; Christian Vercler, MD, MA; Andrew G. Shuman, MD
"Integrating a Predoctoral Clinical Ethics Fellowship into a Medical School Curriculum"

 

Research Topics: 

Funded by National Institutes of Health.

Funding Years: 2014-2019.

Randomized controlled trial (RCT) results diffuse into clinical practice slowly - the average time from trial completion to widespread adoption of a new treatment is nearly 20 years. These delays result in suboptimal treatment for patients with neurological diseases. In light of these delays and the enormous societal value of NINDS clinical trials findings, NINDS has recognized the need to accelerate implementation by promoting research to translate trial findings into routine care (T2 translational research). This application seeks to optimize translation of NINDS trials by personalizing clinical trial results ad addressing barriers to translation for clinicians and policy-makers. Using translational research methods, we can move from one-size-fits-all evidence-based medicine towards personalized medicine by estimating treatment benefit for individual patients. Other translational methods can evaluate and address stakeholder concerns that hinder translation. Because clinicians are often skeptical of trial results, changing practice requires convincing them not only that a treatment works in an RCT or that it works in academic medical centers, but that it will work for their patients. Similarly, if policy-makers and payers can be convinced that a new treatment is a good value (e.g., a favorable cost-benefit ratio), they can use their considerable influence on the healthcare delivery system to facilitate translation. Specifically, we will use translational research methods to address three important issues essential to improving trial translation: 1. estimating individual-level outcomes using multivariable outcome prediction 2. Estimating the impact of real world circumstances on outcomes using simulation analyses and 3. Cost effectiveness analysis. Results from these analyses can influence clinicians and policy-makers directly or through the use of tools, such as websites and mobile applications. This proposal has two key objectives. First, we will adapt translational research methods to clinical trials by addressing essential translation-relevant questions for the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stenting (CREST) trial. Second, we will develop a model to concurrently perform similar translational analyses in the Neurology Emergency Treatment Trials (NETT) network. These objectives will be addressed through 3 specific aims: 1. to estimate the expected net benefit of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) vs. carotid artery stenting (CAS) for individual patients in the CREST trial using refined multivariable outcome prediction methods. 2. To estimate the impact of personalized decision-making and real world circumstances (e.g., differing complication rates) on the net benefit of CAS vs. CEA for real world patients using simulation analyses. 3. To assess the feasibility of performing concurrent translational and cost analyses in NETT trials by evaluating a process implementation model in newly initiated and recently completed NETT trials. Dr. Burke has a unique background as a vascular neurologist with training in Translational research methodology through the highly regarded Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. In this proposal, Dr. Burke will develop the additional expertise in clinical trials, multivariable outcome prediction, simulation analyses and cost analyses to become a leader and independently-funded investigator in neurological translational research working to develop a new generation of NETT trials better designed to effectively inform real world clinical practice and improve patient outcomes. This proposal capitalizes on unique environmental strengths at the University of Michigan. Most importantly, Dr. Burke will be supported by an outstanding multi- disciplinary mentorship team including Dr. William Barsan the NETT Clinical Coordinating Center (CCC) principal investigator and a research leader in the emergency treatment of neurological diseases, Dr. Rodney Hayward a Professor of Internal Medicine and a pioneer in translational research and Dr. Lewis Morgenstern, a leader in neurological translational research. All three mentors have excellent track records in mentoring junior faculty and transitioning junior faculty to independence. In addition, Dr. Burke will have te opportunity to participate in a unique hands-on clinical trials immersion through the NETT to gain experience in clinical trial design, management and implementation. Finally, the University of Michigan has recently built the largest academic Translational Research center in the United States (the Institute for Health Policy and Innovation) which will support the advanced statistical methods required for this proposal.

PI(s): James Burke

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