Objective: To determine the effect on risk management of full-time attending physician coverage in a pediatric emergency department.
Design: Retrospective, with data collected through a review of malpractice cases from August 1, 1984 through July 31, 1990.
Setting: Large urban teaching hospital's pediatric emergency department.
Results: Malpractice cases from August 1, 1984 to July 31, 1987, when there was part-time attending physician coverage, were compared with those of 1987 through 1990, when full-time attending physician coverage was instituted. Medical records from the pediatric emergency department, subsequent hospital records, and abstracts of claims were reviewed. Disbursements and the types of lawsuits were also analyzed. There was a 41.7% decrease in the number of claims filed and a 44.3% reduction in payments with full-time coverage.
Conclusions: Full-time attending physician coverage in a pediatric emergency department was associated with a decrease in the number of malpractice claims and the amounts of disbursements. Further research in this area on a larger study sample is advisable.