Objectives: To evaluate the error management systems emergency medicine residency directors (EMRDs) use to identify and report clinical errors made by emergency medicine residents and their satisfaction with error-based teaching as an educational tool.
Methods: All 112 EMRDs listed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 1996 were sent a 15-item survey. Five areas of error evaluation and management were assessed: 1) systems for tracking and reporting clinical errors; 2) resident participation in the systems; 3) resident remediation; 4) EMRD-perceived satisfaction with current error-reporting mechanisms, their educational value, and their ability to identify and prevent errors; and 5) EMRDs' perceptions of faculty and resident satisfaction with the systems.
Results: The response rate was 86%. All EMRDs indicated that methods are in place to track and report errors at their institutions. These include morbidity and mortality conference (94%), quality assurance case review conference (76%), and continuous quality improvement audits (60%). A majority of programs (58%) present resident cases anonymously in order to enhance teaching (39%), to avoid embarrassment (28%), and to avoid individual blame (24%). While mandated resident remediation is not required at 48% of the programs, 24% require lectures, 17% require written reports, and 6% require extra clinical shifts. The EMRDs rated the educational value of morbidity and mortality conference as outstanding (11%) or excellent (53%), and rated their systems for identifying key resident errors as outstanding (0%), excellent (14%), or good (47%).
Conclusions: All emergency medicine residency programs have systems to track and report resident errors. Resident participation varies widely, as does resident remediation processes. Most EMRDs are satisfied with their systems but few EMRDs rate them as excellent in the detection or prevention of clinical errors.