Background: Previous trials have showed a 10-30% rate of inaccuracies on applications to individual residency programs. No studies have attempted to corroborate this on a national level. Attempts by residency programs to diminish the frequency of inaccuracies on applications have not been reported. We seek to clarify the national incidence of inaccuracies on applications to emergency medicine residency programs. Methods: This is a multi-center, single-blinded, randomized, cohort study of all applicants from LCME accredited schools to involved EM residency programs. Applications were randomly selected to investigate claims of AOA election, advanced degrees and publications. Errors were reported to applicants' deans and the NRMP. Results: Nine residencies reviewed 493 applications (28.6% of all applicants who applied to any EM program). 56 applications (11.4%, 95% CI 8.6-14.2%) contained at least one error. Excluding "benign" errors, 9.8% (95% CI 7.2-12.4%), contained at least one error. 41% (95% CI 35.0-47.0%) of all publications contained an error. All AOA membership claims were verified, but 13.7% (95% CI 4.4-23.1%) of claimed advanced degrees were inaccurate. Inter-rater reliability of evaluations was good. Investigators were reluctant to notify applicants' dean's offices and the NRMP. Conclusion: This is the largest study to date of accuracy on application for residency and the first such multi-centered trial. High rates of incorrect data were found on applications. This data will serve as a baseline for future years of the project, with emphasis on reporting inaccuracies and warning applicants of the project's goals.
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