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Classics and Emerging 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

All Classics and Emerging Classics (867)

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Shah T, Patel-Teague S, Kroupa L, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2018;28:10-14.
Alert fatigue associated with electronic health records (EHRs) contributes to primary care physician burnout and can increase medication errors. The phenomenon is especially well-described in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system, where providers receive more than 100 alerts per day, which require an average of 85 seconds to address. This study describes a nationwide VA initiative to reduce EHR alerts in primary care and teach providers to process alerts more efficiently. Alerts decreased by a small but significant amount—from an average of 128 per day to an average of 116 per day. Providers who received the most alerts before the initiative experienced the largest alert reduction. A PSNet perspective described a way forward in improving EHR safety.
Tolley CL, Slight SP, Husband AK, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2018;75:239-246.
This systematic review of clinical decision support for safe medication use found that such systems are incompletely implemented and lack standardization and integration of patient-specific factors. The authors suggest that reducing alert fatigue and employing human factors principles would enhance decision support effectiveness.
Paine CW, Goel V, Ely E, et al. J Hosp Med. 2016;11:136-144.
Alarm safety is now a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal. This systematic review analyzed 24 studies on alarm characteristics and 8 studies that evaluated interventions to improve alert fatigue. Consistent with other studies, the vast majority of the time, alarms do not signal problems that require clinician action. The most promising intervention strategies for reducing alarms that have emerged thus far are widening alarm parameters, implementing alarm delays, and frequently changing telemetry electrodes and wires. A PSNet perspective discussed approaches to reduce alert fatigue while maintaining safety.
Drew BJ, Harris P, Zègre-Hemsey JK, et al. PLoS One. 2014;9:e110274.
Alarm fatigue, in which clinicians ignore safety alerts if they are too frequent or perceived to be clinically irrelevant, can lead to lack of awareness of an unsafe situation. This concern is particularly acute in intensive care units where patients are typically monitored with multiple devices, each with alarms. This retrospective review examined all alarm data regarding physiologic monitoring, including electrocardiogram, blood pressure, and oxygenation, from five intensive care units in a medical center. The vast majority of alarms were false-positives. Inappropriate alarm settings, electrode failure leading to poor signal quality, and alerts for non-actionable events were common causes for unnecessary alarms. The authors call for improving device design and monitor algorithms in order to reduce alarm fatigue. A previous AHRQ WebM&M perspective discussed the safety of medical devices.
Strom BL, Schinnar R, Aberra F, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170:1578-83.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems prevent prescribing errors by warning clinicians about medication interactions or contraindications. However, extensive research has shown that clinicians ignore many warnings, especially those perceived as clinically inconsequential. In this randomized trial, investigators created a "hard stop" warning that essentially prevented co-prescribing of warfarin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (a combination that exposes patients to severe bleeding risks). Although the hard stop was much more successful than a less stringent warning at preventing co-prescribing, the trial was stopped and the warning abandoned because several patients experienced delays in needed treatment with one of the drugs. The accompanying editorial by Dr. David Bates points out that this study vividly illustrates the unintended consequences of CPOE, a persistent issue that has slowed the pace of CPOE implementation.