Healthcare organizations accredited by the Joint Commission are required to conduct a root cause analysis (RCA) in response to any sentinel event such as the one described below. Once the cause is identified and a plan of action established it is useful to conduct a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to reduce the likelihood that a process would fail.
As a member of the healthcare team in the hospital described in this scenario you have been selected as a member of the team investigating the incident.
It is 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday and Mr. B a 67-year-old patient arrives at the six-room emergency department (ED) of a sixty-bed rural hospital. He has been brought to the hospital by his son and neighbor. At this time Mr. B is moaning and complaining of severe pain to his (L) leg and hip area. He states he lost his balance and fell after tripping over his dog.
Mr. B was admitted to the triage room where his vital signs were B/P 120/80 HR-88 (regular) T-98.6 R-32 and his weight was recorded at 175 pounds. Mr. B. states that he has no known allergies and no previous falls. He states My hip area and leg hurt really bad. I have never had anything like this before. Patient rates pain at ten out of ten on the numerical verbal pain scale. He appears to be in moderate distress. His (L) leg appears shortened with swelling (edema in the calf) ecchymosis and limited range of motion (ROM). Mr. Bs leg is stabilized and then he is further evaluated and discharged from triage to the emergency department (ED) patient room. He is admitted by Nurse J. The admitting nurse finds that Mr. B has a history of impaired glucose tolerance and prostate cancer. At Mr. Bs last visit with his primary care physician laboratory data revealed elevated cholesterol and lipids. Mr. Bs current medications are atorvastatin and oxycodone for chronic back pain. After the nurse completes Mr. Bs assessment Nurse J informs the ED physician of admission findings and the ED physician proceeds to examine Mr. B.
Staffing on this day consists of two nurses (one RN and one LPN) one secretary and one emergency department physician. Respiratory therapy is in-house and available as needed. At the time of Mr. Bs arrival the ED staff is caring for two other patients. One patient is a 43-year-old female complaining of a throbbing headache. The patient rates current pain at four out of ten on numerical verbal pain scale. The patient states that she has a history of migraines. She received treatment remains stable and discharge is pending. The second patient is an eight-year-old boy being evaluated for possible appendicitis. Laboratory results are pending for this patient. Both of these patients were examined evaluated and cared for by the ED physician and are awaiting further treatment or orders.
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