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Classics

To help our readers navigate the tremendous breadth of the PSNet Collection, AHRQ PSNet editors and advisors have given the designation of “Classic” to review articles, empirical studies, government and stakeholder reports, commentaries, and books of lasting importance to the patient safety field. These items have the potential to impact how providers approach care practice and are regularly referenced in the literature. More information on the selection process.

 

The “Emerging Classics” designation identifies those resources that may not have met the level of a “Classic” yet due to limited citation in the published literature or in the level of impact/contribution to the environment, but these are resources which our patient safety subject matter experts believe have the potential to drive change in the field.

Popular Classics

Huang SS, Septimus E, Kleinman K, et al. N Engl J Med. 2013;368.

Healthcare associated infection is a leading cause of preventable illness and death. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a virulent, multi-drug resistant infection increasingly seen across healthcare settings. This pragmatic,... Read More

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Horsham, PA; Institute for Safe Medication Practices: February 2019.
Drawing on information gathered from the ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program, this fact sheet provides a comprehensive list of commonly confused medication names, including look-alike and sound-alike name pairs. Drug name confusion can easily lead to medication errors, and the ISMP has recommended interventions such as the use of tall man lettering in order to prevent such errors. An error due to sound-alike medications is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
Kang H, Wang J, Yao B, et al. JAMIA Open. 2018;2(1):179-186.
Improved health information technology (IT) event databases are necessary to better understand safety events associated with health IT, but such databases are lacking. This study describes the use of the Food and Drug Administration Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database as a source to identify adverse events related to health IT. Frequently identified contributing factors to such events included hardware and software problems as well as user interface design issues.
Howard R, Fry B, Gunaseelan V, et al. JAMA Surg. 2019;154(1):e184234.
This observational study found that when patients were prescribed a higher number of opioid pills following surgery, they self-administered more pills, although most patients did consume all of the pills they received. The authors suggest collecting patient-reported opioid consumption data in order to make opioid prescribing safer.
Schnipper JL, Mixon A, Stein J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2018;27(12):954-964.
The goal of medication reconciliation is to prevent unintended medication discrepancies at times of transitions in care, which can lead to adverse events. Implementing effective medication reconciliation interventions has proven to be challenging. In this AHRQ-funded quality improvement study, five hospitals implemented a standardized approach to admission and discharge medication reconciliation using an evidence-based toolkit with longitudinal mentorship from the study investigators. The toolkit was implemented at each study site by a pharmacist and a hospitalist with support from local leadership. The intervention did not achieve overall reduction in potentially harmful medication discrepancies compared to baseline temporal trends. However, significant differences existed between the study sites, with sites that successfully implemented the recommended interventions being more likely to achieve reductions in harmful medication discrepancies. The study highlights the difficulty inherent in implementing quality improvement interventions in real-world settings. A WebM&M commentary discussed the importance of medication reconciliation and suggested best practices.
Kale MS, Korenstein D. BMJ. 2018;362:k2820.
Overdiagnosis has emerged as a quality and safety concern due to its potential to result in financial and emotional harm for patients and their families. This review discusses factors that contribute to overdiagnosis in primary care including financial incentives and innovations in diagnostic technologies. The authors recommend increasing awareness about the negative consequences of unneeded screenings, clarifying the definition of overdiagnosis, and adjusting cultural expectations for testing and treatment as avenues for improvement.
Carthon MB, Hatfield L, Plover C, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2019;34:40-46.
This cross-sectional study found that nurses reporting a lower level of engagement also described worse patient safety in their work environment. These concerns were exacerbated when higher patient–nurse staffing ratios were present. The authors suggest that increasing nurse engagement may improve patient safety.
Doctor JN, Nguyen A, Lev R, et al. Science (1979). 2018;361:588-590.
High-risk opioid prescribing by providers contributes to opioid misuse. Prior studies have shown that patients frequently receive opioid prescriptions even if they have a history of overdose. In this randomized trial involving 861 providers prescribing opioids to 170 patients who experienced fatal overdose, providers in the intervention arm were notified about patients' deaths by the county medical examiner while those in the control arm were not. Researchers found that milligram morphine equivalents prescribed to the patients of providers who received the death notifications decreased by almost 10% in the 3-month period following the intervention. There were no significant changes in the prescribing patterns of the control group. An Annual Perspective discussed patient safety and opioid medications.
Simsekler MCE, Ward JR, Clarkson J. Ergonomics. 2018;61(8):1046-1064.
In aviation and other high reliability industries, organizations prioritize proactive risk identification in addition to root cause analysis after safety events occur. Researchers developed a risk identification framework for their health system and tested its feasibility with health care workforce members.
Gandhi TK, Kaplan GS, Leape L, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2018;27:1019-1026.
Over the last decade, the Lucian Leape Institute has explored five key areas in health care to advance patient safety. These include medical education reform, care integration, patient and family engagement, transparency, and joy and meaning in work and workforce safety for health care professionals. This review highlights progress to date in each area and the challenges that remain to be addressed, including increasing clinician burnout and shortcomings of existing health information technology approaches. The authors also suggest opportunities for further research such as measuring the impact of residency training programs. In a past PSNet interview, Dr. Tejal Gandhi, president of the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, discussed improving patient safety at a national level.
Zhou L; Blackley SV; Kowalski L; Doan R; Acker WW; Landman AB; Kontrient E; Mack D; Meteer M; Bates DW; Goss FR.
Clinical documentation is an essential part of patient care. However, in the electronic health record era, documentation is widely perceived to be inefficient and a significant driver of physician burnout. Speech recognition software, which directly transcribes clinicians' dictated speech, is increasingly being used in order to streamline the documentation workflow. This study examined the accuracy of speech recognition software in a sample of notes (progress notes, operative notes, and discharge summaries) produced by 144 clinicians of multiple disciplines in 2 health systems. Transcripts produced by speech recognition software had 7.4 errors per 100 transcribed words, with many of these errors being potentially clinically significant. Although review by a professional medical transcriptionist corrected most of these errors, about 1 in 300 words remained incorrect even in the final physician-signed note. This study corroborates prior research that found potentially significant error rates in software-transcribed emergency medicine and radiology notes. A WebM&M commentary discussed an adverse event that occurred due to a transcription error in a radiology study report.
Alingh CW, van Wijngaarden JDH, van de Voorde K, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28(1):39-48.
This study developed a measure of patient safety leadership style for nurse managers. Researchers found that their measure of control-based versus commitment-based safety management was valid and reliable after testing among clinical nurses.
World Health Organization; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; OECD; World Bank.
The Crossing the Quality Chasm report outlined the importance of building health care processes that ensure safe, efficient, effective, timely, equitable, and patient-centered health care practice. Spotlighting the importance of an integrated approach to achieving high-quality care, this report outlines how governments, health services, health care staff, and patients can enhance health care quality. A past PSNet interview discussed the global impact of the World Health Organization's efforts to improve patient safety.
Tawfik DS, Profit J, Morgenthaler TI, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018;93:1571-1580.
Physician burnout is a highly prevalent patient safety concern. Researchers employed data from the American Medical Association to survey United States physicians about burnout and safety. Of 6586 respondents, 54% reported burnout symptoms, consistent with prior studies. More than 10% of respondents reported a major medical error in the prior 3 months, and these rates were even higher among physicians that had symptoms of burnout, even after adjustment for personal and practice factors. The majority of physicians graded their work unit safety as excellent or very good. The authors conclude interventions to improve safety must address both burnout and work unit safety. Because the survey response rate was less than 20%, it is unclear whether these findings reflect practicing US physicians more broadly. An Annual Perspective summarized the relationship between clinician burnout and patient safety.
Larochelle MR, Bernson D, Land T, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(3):137-145.
Nationally, opioid overdose remains a common cause of preventable death. Treatment of opioid use disorder with opioid replacement therapy, specifically methadone or buprenorphine, is a potent but underutilized strategy for reducing opioid-related harm. Investigators employed a prospective cohort study to follow 17,568 adults who were treated in Massachusetts emergency departments for a nonfatal opioid overdose. About 15% received opioid replacement therapy in the subsequent 2 years. Patients on opioid replacement therapy were substantially less likely to die from opioids or any other cause. An accompanying editorial from leaders at the National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights strategies to increase the number of Americans offered these life-saving therapies. The editorial also notes the alarming number of patients who received prescriptions for short-acting opioids and benzodiazepines after an opioid overdose. A past Annual Perspective and PSNet perspective delineated other strategies for addressing the opioid crisis.
Griffiths P, Recio-Saucedo A, Dall'Ora C, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2018;74(7):1474-1487.
Inadequate hospital nurse staffing is linked to increased mortality. This systematic review found that lower nurse staffing is associated with more reports of missed nursing care. Two of the authors summarized the science of missed nursing care in a recent PSNet perspective.
Haffajee RL, Mello MM, Zhang F, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37(6):964-974.
The opioid epidemic is a well-recognized national patient safety issue. High-risk opioid prescribing can contribute to misuse. Provider prescribing has come under increased scrutiny and several states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Prior research suggests that such programs have the potential to reduce opioid-related harm. This study used commercial claims data to assess the impact of PDMPs implemented in four states in 2012–2013 on opioid prescribing. By the end of 2014, all four states with PDMPs demonstrated a greater reduction in the average amount of morphine-equivalents prescribed per person per quarter compared with states without these programs. One state demonstrated a decrease in the percentage of people who filled an opioid prescription. The authors conclude that PDMPs have the potential to reduce opioid use and improve prescribing practices. An Annual Perspective highlighted safety issues associated with opioid medications.
Clark BW, Derakhshan A, Desai S. Med Clin North Am. 2018;102:453-464.
Diagnostic errors have garnered increasing attention as a contributor to patient harm. This review explores reasons for underrecognition of diagnostic errors, including cognitive biases and large-scale system weaknesses. The authors suggest emphasis on education to enhance clinical knowledge, physical examination practice, and medical history-taking skills to improve diagnosis.
Krein SL, Mayer J, Harrod M, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(8):1016-1057.
Infection control precautions including use of personal protective equipment (PPE) are critical for preventing transmission of infections within health care settings. This direct observation study observed frequent failures in use of PPE, including entering rooms without using PPE at all, PPE process mistakes, and slips in properly executing PPE use. The authors suggest that given the wide range of failures, a variety of strategies are needed to improve use of PPE.
Fiscella K, McDaniel SH. Amer Psychol. 2018;73(4):451-467.
Teamwork is an important element of safe care delivery. This review explores the evidence on the role of teams in ambulatory care, innovations in primary care teamwork models, and barriers to success. The authors offer recommendations to encourage team development in primary care, including defining team competencies, providing team training opportunities specific to ambulatory care, and adjusting care payment mechanisms.