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Examining the concept of location-based decision-making

| Feb 9, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

Most people in Queens seek medical care under the assumption that no matter the conditions or circumstances surrounding their visits, the healthcare providers that see them will be able to correctly diagnose their injuries and/or ailments. However, given the many different settings in which care is rendered, one might assume that the conditions present could impact a provider’s decision-making.

One area where conditional factors may play an increased role in patient care is the emergency department. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American ED’s see an average of 130.4 million patients every year. The revolving-door nature of patient volumes encountered in an ED, combined with the type of the care being delivered there can easily contribute to a high-stress atmosphere that could influence the time providers dedicate to individual cases.

The medical journal Emergency Medicine News cites several reasons how the environment of the ED can influence patient care. These include:

  •          High patient volumes: When ED volumes are high, providers may often try and relieve numbers by seeing patients whose are cases are perceived to have a lower acuity in the waiting room or hallway. Such a setting is unlikely the right one to guarantee quality care.
  •          Demands on doctors: ED physicians often have their attention pulled in several different directions, which may not allow them to dedicate sufficient focus to individual patients.
  •          Preconceived bias: Providers may place too much confidence in triage nurse evaluations, leading them to dedicate less attention to patients assigned lower acuity levels during their triage assessments.

This potential impact on care is referred to as location-based decision-making. Patients seen in stressful environments like an ED who later were found to have been misdiagnosed may want to consider this point when determining what may have caused their providers to err in their treatment.  

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