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Background: The pre-procedure time-out, an important safety measure to verify patient identity and accuracy of a planned procedure, and Joint Commission requirement, is not documented consistently by physicians in our emergency department (ED). Deep sedation and cutaneous abscess incision and drainage (I&D) are two high-risk procedures performed in the ED, supporting the use of a time-out in this setting. Between June 2018 and May 2019, a pre-procedure time-out was documented in the physician procedure note of the electronic medical record (EMR) for 75% of deep sedations, and 94% of I&Ds.

Objective: We aimed to improve ED physician pre-procedure time-out documentation for deep sedation (ketamine and/or propofol) from 75% to 90%, and I&D from 94% to 98% by July 2020.

Design/Methods: Our ED is part of a free-standing, tertiary children’s hospital, comprised of two separate locations across two states, with a combined annual volume of 125,000 visits. We analyzed one year of baseline data for deep sedations and I&Ds performed in both locations, followed by weekly reports from November 2019 to July 2020. We provided education to the physicians regarding the history and importance of the pre-procedure time-out, monthly reminders and updates, as well as individualized feedback for deficient documentation. We optimized EMR procedure notes for deep sedation and I&D, and incentivized the project with American Board of Pediatrics Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credit, as well as a financial bonus. For cases of concurrent deep sedation and I&D, we expected the time-out be documented in both of the independent procedure notes, and measured these accordingly.

Results: During the study period we averaged 100 deep sedations and 25 I&Ds per month. Physician documentation of a pre-procedure time-out improved from 75% to 100% for deep sedation, and from 94% to 99.3% for I&D. The improvements remained sustained for five months without additional intervention. All physicians were eligible for the financial bonus; 40 met MOC credit requirements.

Conclusion(s): A pre-procedure time-out may reduce the likelihood of avoidable patient harm and is practical to perform in a busy ED setting. Using quality improvement methodology, we increased ED physician pre-procedure time-out documentation for deep sedation and I&D through education, feedback, and systems improvement. Future studies may quantify the effects on patient safety and examine the use of similar interventions for other ED procedures.

Presented at the 2021 PAS Virtual Conference


Emergency Medicine | Pediatrics

Improving the Rate of Emergency Department Physician Pre-Procedure Time-Out Documentation for Deep Sedation and Cutaneous Abscess Incision and Drainage



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