Emergency medicine in its many forms was highlighted this past week on MD Consult. From mass casualties and disaster planning, to weekend hospital visits and successful discharge communications, emergency care was shown to be a wide and varying field.
It’s been two weeks since the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and since a man opened fire in a darkened midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colo. and wounded fifty-eight people. News stories everywhere have focused on the shooter’s life and motives. They have spotlighted the victims and how they are coping, and on July 24th the movie’s star, Christian Bale, went to Aurora where he met with several of the victims before paying a visit to a memorial site.
Here at MD Consult the stories shift to cover the life-saving acts of the emergency response teams that aided the victims. The two emergency departments in vicinity of the theater were flooded with patients, causing emergency disaster plans to go into effect. In the article, Dr. Frank R. Lansville, medical director for emergency services at the Medical Center of Aurora, said that “the most astonishing thing was the number of people who came together in such a short period of time….” Well-practiced disaster plans and training, while they may seem a hassle or a waste of time, have proven here to be instrumental in saving lives.
Emergency surgery continued to be a point of focus on MD Consult this past week with a look at what is called the “weekend effect.” Focused on left-sided diverticulitis when treated on a Saturday or Sunday, the article suggested that those treated during a weekend have more short-term complications than those who are seen Monday through Friday. The study showed that while mortality rates do not rise, there is an increase in the length of hospital stays and overall costs. It is suggested that this could all be due to the fact that hospitals have fewer staff present on weekends than during the weekdays, “especially among specialists such as colorectal surgeons.”
The limitations of the study were listed as not having a long-term follow-up to catalog the outcomes or note of the severity of the disease at the time it was presented to the doctor.
With one final nod to emergency departments, the Annals of Emergency Medicine printed an examination of communication between patients and the hospital staff during the time of discharge. This is a vulnerable time for patients as their care is passed from the hospital employees and into their own, or a family member’s, hands. This study delves into the ways one might improve a patient’s discharge process and the various methods of communication that can be implemented. They suggest that “patients need structured content, presented verbally, with written and visual cues to enhance recall. Written instructions need to be provided in the patient’s language and at an appropriate reading level.” Requesting confirmation from the patient that they understand what they are being told will help both the patient and the hospital staff know that all possible information was communicated clearly.
Check back again next week when we see what else is new on MD Consult.blog comments powered by Disqus