Emergency Nurse Practitioners Rarely Miss Injuries

Found to be on par with physicians in terms of minor illness and injury diagnosis, management
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency nurse practitioners (ENPs) exhibit high diagnostic accuracy, and there are no significant differences between ENPs and physicians related to diagnosis and management of minor injuries and illness, according to research published in the July issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Christien van der Linden, R.N., of the Medical Center Haaglanden in the Netherlands, and colleagues compared 741 patients treated by ENPs with 741 patients treated by junior doctors/senior health officers (SHOs) for the number and severity of missed injuries and inappropriate management of cases, as well as waiting times and length of stay.

The researchers found that injuries were missed or patients were inappropriately managed in 29 of the 1,482 cases studied (1.9 percent), but no statistically significant difference was found between ENPs and junior doctors/SHOs in missed injuries, inappropriate management, or waiting time, though length of stay was significantly longer for patients treated by junior doctors/SHOs than ENPs (85 versus 65 minutes). Injuries were missed most commonly due to misinterpretation of radiographs (13 of 17 missed injuries).

"ENPs showed high diagnostic accuracy, with 97.3 percent of the patients being correctly diagnosed and managed. No significant differences between nurse practitioners and physicians related to missed injuries and inappropriate management were detected," the authors write.

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