WebM&M Cases & Commentaries
WebM&M (Morbidity & Mortality Rounds on the Web) features expert analysis of medical errors reported anonymously by our readers. Spotlight Cases include interactive learning modules available for CME. Commentaries are written by patient safety experts and published monthly. Contribute by Submitting a Case anonymously.
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- Communication Improvement 5
- Culture of Safety 2
- Education and Training 4
- Error Reporting and Analysis 1
- Human Factors Engineering 3
- Legal and Policy Approaches 2
- Logistical Approaches 2
- Quality Improvement Strategies 7
- Specialization of Care 1
- Technologic Approaches 4
- Device-related Complications 4
- Diagnostic Errors 2
- Discontinuities, Gaps, and Hand-Off Problems 3
- Delirium 1
- Medication Safety 2
- Nonsurgical Procedural Complications 2
- Surgical Complications 3
- Transfusion Complications 1
Jeffrey H. Barsuk, MD, MS, and Cynthia Barnard, MBA, MSJS; December 2014
In a simulation exercise conducted in an institution that felt it was prepared for patients with actual or suspected Ebola, a man presented to the emergency department with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and fever. He had recently returned to the US from Sierra Leone. The nurse initiated an isolation protocol and the critical care team all donned personal protective equipment. During transport, confusion about which elevators to use potentially exposed 30 staff members to Ebola. Additional issues occurred including breaching sterile technique while inserting a central line and confusion about the process to transport the patient's blood to the lab.
Nancy Moureau, BSN, RN, CRNI, CPUI, VA-BC; December 2012
A woman undergoing treatment for myasthenia gravis via PICC developed extensive catheter-related thrombosis, bacteremia, and sepsis, and ultimately died. Although the PICC line was placed at one facility, the patient was receiving treatment at another, raising questions about who had responsibility for the line.
- Spotlight Case
Chi-Tai Fang, MD, PhD; September 2012
Admitted with a congestive heart failure exacerbation, an elderly man acquired an infection around his peripheral IV site, accompanied by fever, chills, and back pain. Likely secondary to the infected peripheral IV catheter, the patient had developed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia and an epidural abscess.
Rita Redberg, MD, MSc; December 2011
A patient with Guillain-Barré syndrome received more than the recommended number of plasmapheresis treatments. When the ordering physicians were asked why so many treatments were given, they both responded that the patient was improving so they felt that more treatments would help him recover even more.
- Spotlight Case
Amy A. Vogelsmeier, PhD, RN; September 2011
Following surgical repair for a hip fracture, a nursing home resident with limited mobility developed a fever. She was readmitted to the hospital, where examination revealed a very deep pressure ulcer. Despite maximal efforts, the patient developed septic shock and died.
Richard Rothman, MD, PhD; Sahael Stapleton, MD; May 2011
An emergency department worker develops chicken pox following an exposure during one of his shifts.
- Spotlight Case
Vesselin Dimov, MD; April 2009
A premature infant had a PICC line placed for parenteral nutrition. During an attempt to remove it, the line broke. The infant had to be sent for surgical removal of the catheter and required an increased level of care, including ventilator support.
Roslyn Yomtovian, MD; July 2008
Following spinal surgeries, two different patients developed tachycardia, hypotension, and hypoxia due to sepsis. Given the similarity in clinical course, the hospital investigated and found that both patients had received platelets contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus.
B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD; March 2007
Several days after a patient’s surgery, preliminary wound cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus. Although the final sensitivity profile for the cultures showed resistance to the antibiotic that the patient was receiving, the care team was not notified and the patient died of sepsis.
Darren R. Linkin, MD; Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE; February 2004
Infection Control notices an uptick in post-operative wound infections for patients from one OR team. Environmental rounds reveal "sloppy" practices.
Verna C. Gibbs, MD; September 2003
A patient dies from infection and complications months after surgery; a retained sponge is found at autopsy.
Hilary M. Babcock, MD; Victoria J. Fraser, MD; June 2003
Antibiotics continued in a patient with no clear source of infection for 3 weeks results in hospital-acquired superinfections.
Atul K. Madan, MD ; May 2003
A blood-soaked BP cuff used on one trauma patient is re-used on the next trauma patient, with no regard to universal precautions.