One of the busiest times of HM13—and, come to think of it, every recent annual meeting—is the poster session for the Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) competition. This year, more than 800 abstracts were submitted and reviewed, with nearly 600 being accepted for presentation at HM13. That meant thousands of hospitalists thumbtacking posters to rows and rows of portable bulletin boards in the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s massive exhibit hall.
With all those posters and accompanying oral presentations, it’s impossible for RIV judges to chat with everybody, so they choose finalists based on the abstracts, then listen to quick-hit summaries before choosing a winner on site. And meeting attendees are just as strapped for time, so they do the best they can to see as many posters as they can, taking time to network with old connections and make new ones.
So with all the limitations on how many people will interact with your poster, the small chance of winning Best in Show, and the hundreds of work hours that go into a poster presentation, why do it?
“To share is what I think is really important,” says Todd Hecht, MD, FACP, SFHM, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “If you don’t let other people know what you’re doing, they can’t bring it to their institutions, nor can you learn from others and bring their innovations to your own hospital.”
Dr. Hecht, director of the Anticoagulation Management Center and Anticoagulation Management Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, takes the poster sessions very seriously. This year, he entered a poster in both the Innovations and Vignette categories. His Innovations poster, “Impact of a Multidisciplinary Safety Checklist on the Rate of Preventable Hospital Complications and Standardization of Care,” was a finalist.
That meant that, at the very least, he’d be able to explain to at least two judges what motivated his research team’s project. And what was the inspiration? A 90-year-old male patient with metastatic melanoma who, in the fall of 2011, refused to take medication for VTE prophylaxis, as lesions on his skin made the process rather painful. After refusing the doses for a bit, though, the high-risk patient unsurprisingly developed a pulmonary embolism (PE).
The man survived the PE, but Dr. Hecht and his colleagues began to wonder how many patients refuse VTE prophylaxis. So they investigated, and it turned out that from December 2010 to February 2011, 26.4% of the prescribed doses of prophylaxis on the medicine floors they studied were missed. Moreover, nearly 80% of all missed doses on the medicine floors were due to patient refusal.
“It was astonishing to me that it was that high,” Dr. Hecht says. “If there were 1,000 doses in a month, 260 of them were not being given—and 205 of them were not given because they were refused.”
So Dr. Hecht and colleagues set out to create a checklist that could be used daily on multidisciplinary rounds to help reduce the risk of VTE. First question on the list: Has prophylaxis been ordered, and if so, is the patient refusing it? Knowing that patients are “refusing” medication can lead to discussions about why that is happening, which in turn can lead to ways to convince the patient that the preventative measure is a good idea.