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How resolved malpractice claims might reduce ER misdiagnoses

The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2011

Given the growing cost of malpractice suits from missed or delayed diagnoses in the emergency department, hospitals and their liability insurers are mining resolved claims for lessons on how to reduce such errors, the Informed Patient column reports. In one of the more ambitious efforts, Crico/RMF, which insures Harvard-affiliated hospitals, last year convened an emergency medicine leadership summit with insured hospitals and clients of its risk-management strategies business to identify the key factors contributing to missed or delayed diagnoses in the ER. Their main finding: physician-nurse communication breakdowns often happen at a critical juncture in care. The participating hospitals field-tested strategies to improve communication, and compiled a list of best practices that hospitals can use to prevent such snafus.