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Jun062018

Effect of Increased Inpatient Attending Physician Supervision on Medical Errors, Patient Safety, and Resident Education: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Finn KM, Metlay JP, Chang Y, Nagarur A, Yang S, Landrigan CP, Iyasere C. JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Jun 4 [Epub ahead of print] [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Most of us have assumed that greater supervision of residents would lead to improved outcomes. However, little research has evaluated the role of attending physician supervision on patient safety. The authors conducted a randomized clinical trial of 22 attending physicians each providing 2 different levels of supervision, either (1) increased direct supervision in which attending physicians joined work rounds on previously admitted patients or (2) standard supervision in which attending physicians were available but did not join work rounds. The primary safety outcome was rate of medical errors. Resident education was evaluated via a time-motion study to assess resident participation on rounds and via surveys to measure resident and attending physician educational ratings. A total of 1259 patients (5772 patient-days) were included in the analysis. The medical error rate was not significantly different between standard vs increased supervision (107.6; 95% CI, 85.8-133.7 vs 91.1; 95% CI, 76.9-104.0 per 1000 patient-days; P = .21). Time-motion analysis of 161 work rounds found no difference in mean length of time spent discussing established patients in the 2 models (202; 95% CI, 192-212 vs 202; 95% CI, 189-215 minutes; P = .99). Interns spoke less when an attending physician joined rounds (64; 95% CI, 60-68 vs 55; 95% CI, 49-60 minutes; P = .008). In surveys, interns reported feeling less efficient (41 [55%] vs 68 [73%]; P = .02) and less autonomous (53 [72%] vs 86 [91%]; P = .001) with an attending physician present and residents felt less autonomous (11 [58%] vs 30 [97%]; P < .001). Conversely, attending physicians rated the quality of care higher when they participated on work rounds (20 [100%] vs 16 [80%]; P = .04). The authors conclude that increased direct attending physician supervision did not significantly reduce the medical error rate. They suggested that residency programs should reconsider their balance of patient safety, learning needs, and resident autonomy when designing morning work rounds,

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