Does the implementation of systematic physician cross-checking reduce the rate of adverse events in the emergency department?
In this cluster randomized trial that included 1680 patients, the implementation of systematic cross-checking between physicians resulted in a significant relative risk reduction for adverse events. The rate of adverse events was 10.7% in the control group vs 6.4% in the cross-checking group.
Systematic physician cross-checking may be a key to reducing the high rate of adverse events in the emergency department.
Emergency departments (ED) are environments that are at high risk for medical errors. Previous studies suggested that the proportion of medical errors may decrease when more than 1 physician is involved.
To reduce the proportion of medical errors by implementing systematic cross-checking between emergency physicians.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cluster randomized crossover trial includes a random sample of 14 adult patients (age ≥18 years) per day during two 10-day period in 6 EDs (n = 1680 patients) in France.
Systematic cross-checking between emergency physicians, 3 times a day, which included a brief presentation of one physician’s case to another, followed by the second physician’s feedback to the first.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Medical error in the ED, defined as an adverse event (either a near miss or a serious adverse event). The primary end point was identified using a 2-level error detection surveillance system, blinded to the strategy allocation.
Among the 1680 included patients (mean [SD] age, 57.5 [21.7] years), 144 (8.6%) had an adverse event. There were 54 adverse events among 840 patients (6.4%) in the cross-check group compared with 90 adverse events among 840 patients (10.7%) in the standard care group (relative risk reduction [RRR], 40% [95% CI, 12% to 59%]; absolute risk reduction [ARR], 4.3%; number needed to treat [NNT], 24). There was also a significant reduction rate of near misses (RRR, 47% [95% CI, 15% to 67%]; ARR, 2.7%; NNT, 37) but not of the rate of preventable serious adverse events (RRR, 29% [95% CI, −18% to 57%]; ARR, 1.2%; NNT, 83).
Conclusions and Relevance
The implementation of systematic cross-checking between emergency physicians was associated with a significant reduction in adverse events, mainly driven by a reduction in near misses.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02356926
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Freund Y, Goulet H, Leblanc J, et al. Effect of Systematic Physician Cross-checking on Reducing Adverse Events in the Emergency Department: The CHARMED Cluster Randomized Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(6):812–819. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0607
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