Cumbersome workloads increase errors

A new report says that more traffic volume in physician offices makes workloads more cumbersome, increasing the potential for medical errors.

The report, from The St. Paul (MN) Companies, outlines ways to reduce patient injuries and medical liability costs by focusing on reducing the frequency of diagnostic errors and improving patient care and safety. By following the model in the report, "Does Clinical Risk Modification Make a Difference?" health care groups can reduce the costs of each closed claim by an average of $36,500, according to The St. Paul Companies. Findings of the report include:

• Risk control helps significantly reduce liability claim frequency and costs for health care organizations.

• Certain clinical practices are key to reducing risk in clinical areas.

• Quality improvements can be achieved in a health care organization within three years after implementing risk control measures. Once achieved, that level of quality can be sustained over time.

Other highlights of the report include how to accurately maintain patient care records and documentation that supports care and how to make certain providers work closely with their patients during the informed decision-making process. "Our work substantiates the value of not only having a solid risk control program in place, but following it," says Dorothy Berry, vice president for St. Paul Health Care, part of The St. Paul Companies. "By doing so, tremendous progress can be made toward improving overall patient safety and reducing costs associated with professional medical liability claims. Understanding the practice patterns that precede adverse events and modifying these practices holds the most promise for improving patient outcomes and safety."

[To receive a copy of the report, call Chris Redenius at (800) 328-2189. E-mail: chris.redenius@stpaul.com.]