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PSNet: Patient Safety Network

Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices.

Shojania KG, Duncan BW, McDonald KM, et al, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; July 2001. AHRQ Publication No. 01-E058.

Most evidence reports are placed on shelves and gather dust. This one, which reviewed the state of the evidence behind nearly 80 different safety practices (including computerized order entry, use of pharmacists on rounds, methods to prevent falls and nosocomial infections, and interventions to create a culture of safety), became quite influential, in part because it was the first effort to subject safety practices to the same scrutiny as other clinical practices in terms of their evidence of effectiveness. Nearly 100,000 copies of the report have been obtained from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and its now-famous list of the top 11 practices became the focus of many a new patient safety program at hospitals around the nation. The report served as one of the intellectual underpinnings of subsequent rankings of practices such as those by the National Quality Forum and the Leapfrog Group. It also engendered a spirited debate between those who advocated a practical approach to the adoption of safety practices and those promoting a more evidence-based approach. Readers are cautioned that evidence reports have limited shelf-lives, and it is worth reviewing recent literature before adopting even the most highly rated practices in this report.