Clinical Science Colloquium

Colloquium | October 16 | 3:30-5 p.m. | 1102 Berkeley Way West

 Linda M. Isbell, Ph.D.

 Department of Psychology

Title: The Emotional ER: Physician and Nurse Biases Toward Patients with Mental Illness and/or Substance Use Disorders

The Institute of Medicine has recently identified diagnostic error as “the next frontier in patient safety” and has highlighted that every single person is likely to experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime. Unfortunately, some patients are at risk for experiencing many diagnostic errors. A growing body of research indicates that patients with mental illness and/or substance use disorders (SUDs) are less likely to receive the same physical health care as mentally healthy patients, and are less likely to be treated in accordance with clinically-established guidelines. Although it is unclear why these disparities exist, it is well-established that individuals with a mental illness and/or SUD represent a highly stigmatized segment of the population that routinely evokes negative emotions. Such reactions among health care providers are hypothesized to contribute to diagnostic error. This may be particularly likely in high-stress, fast-paced Emergency Departments, where patients with mental illness and/or SUDs are seen at alarmingly high and increasing rates. The current research investigates the emotional experiences of Emergency physicians and nurses when treating patients with mental illness and/or SUDs, and the effects of these emotions on clinical reasoning and behavior. Data from qualitative and experimental studies will be presented.