Emergency Nurses Association, American Academy of Emergency Medicine Release Statement Denouncing 'Mystery Shoppers' in Emergency Departments

Mystery shoppers delay care to other emergency patients, consume valuable


Jul 16, 2008, 01:00 ET from Emergency Nurses Association

    DES PLAINES, Ill., July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Emergency Nurses
 Association (ENA) today released a statement denouncing the use of "Mystery
 Shoppers," people who are sent to the emergency department with a fake
 injury or illness in order to test customer-service. The statement,
 endorsed by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), states the
 practice is not only dangerous and detrimental to quality care, but
 unnecessary since other more effective, less intrusive methods exist to
 gauge customer satisfaction.
     "Emergency departments around the country are at the breaking point,"
 said Denise King, RN, MSN, CEN, 2008 ENA president. "The last thing
 emergency departments need is fake patients with fake symptoms taking up
 the time and resources of the emergency healthcare team while real patients
 with real illnesses are waiting to receive the care they need."
     "For example, if mystery shoppers come to the emergency department
 faking stroke symptoms, they are likely to get a CT scan and blood tests.
 That takes the time of doctors, nurses, radiology technicians and
 laboratory technicians.
     In the meantime, other patients with real illnesses won't have access
 to that scanner and will have to wait longer for a nurse or doctor until
 this perfectly healthy person gets done with his or her charade. That's not
 just wrong, it's dangerous," added King.
     According to the statement, both ENA and AAEM believe that "service
 excellence is an essential component of providing emergency care that is
 safe, effective, patient- and family-centered, timely, efficient and
     However, the statement cites safer alternatives to mystery shoppers
 that can be used to more effectively measure customer satisfaction in an
 emergency department. For example, customer satisfaction surveys or direct
 observation studies are safer and more appropriate means by which to garner
 information regarding service issues.
     "It is irresponsible to delay care to real patients to gather
 customer-service data when better methods for gathering that data exist,"
 said AAEM President Larry D. Weiss, MD, JD, FAAEM. "Why would anyone put
 patients at risk when proven alternatives are available?"
     For more information about this statement, call Anthony Phipps at (847)
 460-4054 or via e-mail at aphipps@ena.org. To download a copy of the
 statement, go to http://www.ena.org/news/releases/
     About the Emergency Nurses Association
     The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is the only professional nursing
 association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing and
 emergency care through advocacy, expertise, innovation, and leadership.
 Founded in 1970, ENA serves as the voice of more than 34,000 members and
 their patients through research, publications, professional development,
 injury prevention and patient education. Additional information is
 available at ENA's Web site: http://www.ena.org.
     About the AAEM
     The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) is the specialty
 society of emergency medicine representing more than 5,000 members. Fellows
 of AAEM are certified by either the American Board of Emergency Medicine
 (ABEM) or the American Osteopathic Board of Emergency Medicine (AOBEM).
 AAEM supports fair and equitable practice environments necessary to allow
 the specialist in emergency medicine to deliver the highest quality of
 patient care. Visit http://www.aaem.org for more information.

SOURCE Emergency Nurses Association