Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Jan 23;54:228-231. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.01.015. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of data looking at resident error or contrasting errors and adverse events among residents and attendings. This type of data could be vital in developing and enhancing educational curricula OBJECTIVES: Using an integrated, readily accessible electronic error reporting system the objective of this study is to compare the frequency and types of error and adverse events attributed to emergency medicine residents with those attributed to emergency medicine attendings.
METHODS: Individual events were classified into errors and/or adverse events, and were attributed to one of three groups-residents only, attendings only, or both (if the event had both resident and attending involvement). Error and adverse events were also classified into five different categories of events-systems, documentation, diagnostic, procedural and treatment. The proportion of error events were compared between the residents only and the attendings only group using a one-sample test of proportions. Categorical variables were compared using Fisher's exact test.
RESULTS: Of a total of 115 observed events over the 11-month data collection period, 96 (83.4%) were errors. A majority of these errors, 40 (41.7%), were attributed to both residents and attendings, 20 (20.8%) were attributed to residents only, and 36 (37.5%) were attributed to attendings only. Of the 19 adverse events, 14 (73.7%) were attributed to both residents and attendings, and 5 (26.3%) adverse events were attributed to attendings only. No adverse events were attributed solely to residents (Table 1). Excluding events attributed to both residents and attendings, there was a significant difference between the proportion of errors attributed to attendings only (64.3%, CI: 50.6, 76.0), and residents only (35.7%, CI: 24.0, 49.0), p = 0.03. (Table 2). There was no significant difference between the residents only and the attendings only group in the distribution of errors and adverse events (Fisher's exact, p = 0.162). (Table 2). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in errors that did not result in adverse events and the rate of errors proceeding to adverse events (Fisher's exact, p = 0.15). (Table 3). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in the distribution of the types of errors and adverse events (Fisher's exact, p = 0.09). Treatment related errors were the most common error types, for both the attending and the resident groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Resident error, somewhat expectedly, is most commonly related to treatment interventions, and rarely is due to an individual resident mistake. Resident error instead seems to reflect concomitant error on the part of the attending. Error, in general as well as adverse events, are more likely to be attributed to an attending alone rather than to a resident.