The chart police at our hospital audited a bunch of charts from the emergency department and I got letters about several “serious offenses.”
First, I got in trouble because I couldn’t be credited with giving antibiotics within the 4 hour … no … now make that 6 hour window for a patient with pneumonia. For the moment forget about the fact that this quality indicator may do more harm than good. Forget that most pneumonias are viral and that requiring doctors to give antibiotics for these viral infections, similar to using Raid to kill dandelions, increases bacterial resistance and helps to spread MRSA. But I digress.
It wasn’t that the patient didn’t get timely antibiotics. The patient got antibiotics not within just 4 hours, but within 2 hours. By the way, congratulations on your increased chances of acquiring MRSA due to our government agency’s blind directives, sir.
It wasn’t that the patient didn’t get appropriate antibiotics. The patient had allergies to several medications (that were from 50 years ago when he was an infant, so he didn’t know what the reactions were), and given his history, we used clindamycin.
My serious offense was that CMS supposedly couldn’t tell what medication was ordered. Instead of writing out “clindamycin 300 milligrams piggyback through the intravenous line over 30 minutes,” the order said “clinda 300mg IVPB.” The nurse gave clindamycin 300 milligrams piggyback through the intravenous line over 30 minutes. But it was still considered poor quality care not because the patient didn’t receive his medication … not because the medication wasn’t given in a timely fashion … but because micromanaging government clipboard patrols with apparently little medical background couldn’t figure out what medication was ordered.
Fortunately for everyone involved, the ClindaCyanide and the ClindaDrano were on backorder in the pharmacy. Otherwise, the patient could have received some other dangerous medication beginning with “clinda” via his IV. Oh yeah, I forgot, there are no other medications beginning with “clinda” aside from clindamycin.
Just another reason why the whole HospitalCompare.org web site should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. The statistics don’t necessarily tell you what they purport to tell you.
But that’s not all …
I also got dinged because I didn’t do one of the Medical Marijuana Advocates’ “time out” forms before doing a lumbar puncture and before draining an abscess.
“Time outs” are required before surgery so that surgeons don’t cut off the wrong appendage or do surgery on the wrong site. There are multiple requirements for a “time out” including preparing proper documentation (because that contributes so much to patient care), reviewing relevant images (if any), readying any necessary equipment, making an unambiguous mark near the procedure site with ink that will still be visible after any skin preparation (doctor’s initials are suggested), and double-checking the site mark before the procedure.
I’m not actually sure that these are the requirements, because I tried to look them up on the Medical Marijuana Advocates’ web site, but they keep the requirements hidden. Isn’t it great how an organization that is supposedly advocating for patient safety keeps all of its initiatives hidden from public view? But I digress yet again.
In theory, I don’t have any problems with marking the site to be operated on if a patient is going to be put under anesthesia prior to surgery and won’t be able to say “Hey doc, why are you starting to cut on my left leg when the abscess is on the right leg?” I’ll even go as far to say that the “time out” concept is a good idea under those circumstances.
But apparently the Medical Marijuana Advocates are now applying this “good” idea to areas where it does not belong and are now citing hospitals for compliance issues if there is not a “time out” form on file for every invasive procedure – even those done at the bedside. Of course I can’t find this on the TJC web site either. If this policy is true, it is asinine.
How exactly is it that I’m going to do a wrong site lumbar puncture? It’s not like I’m ruling out meningitis in many jellyfish. I haven’t had to rule out a subarachnoid hemorrhage in a Siamese twin lately. I don’t suffer from short term memory loss, so it’s not like I won’t remember the patient who just signed the consent form for me to do the procedure. Explain to me how drawing a circle and writing my initials on the back of a patient getting a lumbar puncture is going to improve patient safety.
Leg abscesses are just as bad. Good thing JCAHO is saving us from maiming people with abscesses in the emergency department. “Yeah, sir, that 10 cm abscess on your leg disappeared in the three minutes that elapsed between the point when I examined you and the point that I returned to the room after going to get a scalpel. Oh well, as long as you’re here, I guess I’ll just fillet open your thigh to look for ingrown hairs. Ooops! The abscess was on your other leg! Sorr-rry!”
If we’re going to do these forms on every invasive procedure, the lab is going to have a lot more work drawing blood. A spinal tap can be considered “drawing spinal fluid”, so drawing blood must also be an invasive procedure. Now doctors are going to have to be involved with every blood draw.
I’m most worried about a couple of other invasive procedures, though.
Not sure how the female patients are going to explain to their significant others how my initials got on their crotches if I have to do a pelvic exam.
And I could be wrong, but I don’t think that too many guys are going to let me draw a circle around their anus and put my initials there before I get out the glove and lube to do a prostate check.
Well … I’m going to go have a time out, write my initials on my right wrist, get all the proper equipment together (including a bottle and a frosted mug) and have 12 oz of ClindaBudweiser p.o. before I stroke out.