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March 10, 2021 Weekly Issue

PSNet highlights the latest patient safety literature, news, and expert commentary, including Weekly Updates, WebM&M, and Perspectives on Safety. The current issue highlights what's new this week in patient safety literature, news, conferences, reports, and more. Past issues of the PSNet Weekly Update are available to browse. WebM&M presents current and past monthly issues of Cases & Commentaries and Perspectives on Safety.

This Week’s Featured Articles

Gandhi A, Yu H, Grabowski DC. Health Aff (Millwood). 2021;40(3):384-391.
Prior research has found that high nursing staff turnover is associated with lower patient safety culture. Starting in July 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began collecting daily staffing data for US nursing homes and found that nurse turnover rates were correlated with facility location, for-profit status, Medicaid patient census, and star ratings. This information can be leveraged by policymakers, payers, and healthcare consumers and may incentive efforts to reduce nursing staff turnover.
Minehart RD, Bryant AS, Jackson J, et al. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2021;48(1):31-51.
Improving maternal safety and reducing disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality are national priorities. This article discusses inequities in maternal health outcomes and provision of care, factors involved in the relationship between race and health (e.g., racism, social status, health behaviors), and efforts at the national-, state-, and hospital-level to improve obstetric care and outcomes for Black mothers.
Wiegmann DA, Wood LJ, Solomon DB, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;41(1):31-46.
The Root Cause Analysis and Action (RCA2) framework supports the implementation of sustainable systems-based improvements after investigation of patient safety events. The authors provide an overview of the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS), the Human Factors Intervention Matrix (HFIX), and a decision tool called FACES and describe how these tools can be integrated into the RCA2 framework to foster a comprehensive, human factors analysis of patient safety events and the identification of broader system interventions.
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This Month’s WebM&Ms

WebM&M Cases
Jennifer Branch, PharmD, Dakota Hiner, PharmD, and Victoria Jackson, MS, NP-C, PA-C |
A 93-year-old man on warfarin with chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and a ventricular assist device (VAD) was admitted to the hospital upon referral from the VAD team due to an elevated internal normalized ratio (INR) of 13.4. During medication review, the hospital team found that his prescribed warfarin dose was 4 mg daily on Mondays and Fridays and 3 mg daily on all other days of the week; this prescription was filled with 1 mg tablets. However, his medication list also included an old prescription for 5 mg tablets. After discussions with the patient’s family, it was determined that the patient’s daughter had inadvertently given the patient three 5 mg tablets of warfarin (total daily dose 15 mg) for the past two days. This commentary discusses the importance of understanding patient safety risk, communication across transitions of care, and improving caregiver education and engagement to reduce medication errors.
WebM&M Cases
Wesley Valdes, DO and Garth Utter, MD, MSc |
A 71-year-old frail, non-ambulatory woman presented to the emergency department with fever, sweating and dry cough. Her work-up included non-specific evidence of infection but two negative COVID-19 tests. No source of infection was identified, and she was discharged home after three days. During a video visit with her primary care provider the next day, the patient noted worsening symptoms as well as a skin breakdown on her “backside”; however, no rectal or genital exams were completed during her inpatient stay and the physician did not visualize the area during the video visit. The patient was readmitted to the hospital two days later in septic shock due to a necrotizing soft tissue infection related to a perirectal abscess. The commentary discusses the need for a broad differential diagnosis in seriously ill patients, the influence of diagnostic biases during a pandemic, and how to address perceived limitations in the ability to examine patients in the setting of virtual care.
WebM&M Cases
Spotlight Case
David Barnes, MD and William Ken McCallum, MD |
A 56-year-old women with a history of persistent asthma presented to the emergency department (ED) with shortness of breath and chest tightness that was relieved with Albuterol. She was admitted to the hospital for acute asthma exacerbation. Given a recent history of mobility limitations and continued clinical decompensation, a computed tomography (CT) angiogram of the chest was obtained to rule out pulmonary embolism (PE).  The radiologist summarized his initial impression by telephone to the primary team but the critical finding (“profound evidence of right heart strain") was not conveyed to the primary team. The written radiology impression was not reviewed, nor did the care team independently review the CT images. The team considered her to be low-risk and initiated therapy with a direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC). Later that day, the patient became hemodynamically unstable and was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU). She developed signs of stroke and required ongoing resuscitation overnight before being transitioned to comfort care and died. This commentary discusses the importance of avoiding anchoring bias, effective communication between care team members, and reviewing all available test results to avoid diagnostic errors.
Fudge N, Swinglehurst D. BMJ Open. 2021;11(2):e042504.
Polypharmacy – particularly in older adults – can increase the risk of adverse drug events. Based on an ethnographic case study of community pharmacies in England, the authors found that polypharmacy was a pervasive problem but rarely discussed as a safety concern and not actively challenged by pharmacy staff.
Calder LA, Perry J, Yan JW, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2021;Epub Feb 23.
Prior research has found that some patients may be at risk for adverse events after discharge from the emergency department (ED). This cohort study analyzed adverse events occurring among patients discharged from the ED with cardiovascular conditions and identified several opportunities for improving safe care, such as adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines and strengthening dual diagnosis detection.
Freise L, Neves AL, Flott K, et al. JMIR Form Res. 2021;5(2):e19074.
Patient access to electronic health records (EHRs) can improve health outcomes but is not without concern. This survey of users of a patient portal providing online access to EHRs identified several barriers to understanding information contained in their electronic records, including medical terminology, interpretation of test results, and information display. These barriers signal potential avenues for improving systems providing patient access to their health records.
Tamma PD, Miller MA, Dullabh P, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(2):e210235.
Antimicrobial stewardship is one strategy to improve antibiotic use in order to reduce hospital-acquired infections. This article evaluates the impact of the AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use, which helped more than 400 hospitals use an antibiotic stewardship program to implement and refine their policies regarding antibiotic use. The program led to a significant reduction in antibiotic use over the 1-year period and a 20% reduction in C. difficile infections. The approach encourages “self-stewardship,” in which front-line clinicians are empowered to improve their own antibiotic use in conjunction with traditional antibiotic stewardship programs. 
Russ-Jara AL, Luckhurst CL, Dismore RA, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2021;Epub Jan 23.
Resolving medication errors often requires coordination between different care providers. This qualitative study examined medication safety incidents at one VA hospital and found that health care providers rely on cognitive decentering, collaborative decision-making, back-up behaviors, and contingency planning to coordinate care during medication safety incidents. The primary barriers to care coordination identified were role ambiguity, breakdowns in care, and electronic health record-related challenges.
Gandhi A, Yu H, Grabowski DC. Health Aff (Millwood). 2021;40(3):384-391.
Prior research has found that high nursing staff turnover is associated with lower patient safety culture. Starting in July 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began collecting daily staffing data for US nursing homes and found that nurse turnover rates were correlated with facility location, for-profit status, Medicaid patient census, and star ratings. This information can be leveraged by policymakers, payers, and healthcare consumers and may incentive efforts to reduce nursing staff turnover.
Wiegmann DA, Wood LJ, Solomon DB, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;41(1):31-46.
The Root Cause Analysis and Action (RCA2) framework supports the implementation of sustainable systems-based improvements after investigation of patient safety events. The authors provide an overview of the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS), the Human Factors Intervention Matrix (HFIX), and a decision tool called FACES and describe how these tools can be integrated into the RCA2 framework to foster a comprehensive, human factors analysis of patient safety events and the identification of broader system interventions.
Whaley C, Bancsi A, Ho JM-W, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21(1).
Communicating medication indications with the healthcare team and patients can improve medication adherence and patient safety. Based on qualitative interviews with prescribers, researchers found that prescribers were open to sharing medication indications and understood the safety benefits, but raised concerns about the impact on their workflow and workload.
Urman RD, Seger DL, Fiskio JM, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(2):e76-e83.
Harm from opioids is a widely recognized patient safety issue, and potential harm associated with short-term use is a growing area of concern. This analysis of a previously opioid-free surgical population identified a high rate of potential opioid-related adverse drug events (ORADEs); risk was strongly associated with route and duration of post-operative opioid administration. The presence of an ORADE was associated with longer postoperative length of stay, higher hospitalization costs, lower odds of discharge home, and higher odds of death.

Jørgensen IF, Brunak S. NPJ Digital Med. 2021;4(1):12.

Overdiagnosis is a growing area of concern within patient safety. The authors present a generalizable approach for identifying patients at risk of being mis- or overdiagnosed. Using chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients as an example, the authors outline how to create significant, temporal disease trajectories, and compare similarities between these disease trajectories and individual patient disease histories to identify the cases that may signal overdiagnosis.
Minehart RD, Bryant AS, Jackson J, et al. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2021;48(1):31-51.
Improving maternal safety and reducing disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality are national priorities. This article discusses inequities in maternal health outcomes and provision of care, factors involved in the relationship between race and health (e.g., racism, social status, health behaviors), and efforts at the national-, state-, and hospital-level to improve obstetric care and outcomes for Black mothers.
Kinlay M, Zheng WY, Burke R, et al. Res Social and Adm Pharm. 2020;Epub Dec 10.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems have been advocated as a strategy to reduce medical errors, but some errors persist. This narrative review identified knowledge gaps in the relationship between CPOE systems and how systems-related errors change over time. Studies suggest that system-related errors persist with long-term use of CPOE systems, but future research should explore the types of errors that occur, when they occur, and the system factors contributing to the errors.
Abraham J, Meng A, Tripathy S, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(6):513-524.
Handoffs are essential to communicating important information and preventing adverse outcomes. This systematic review found that bundled interventions commonly used to support handoffs between the operating room and intensive care units included information transfer/communication checklists and protocols. A meta-analysis showed that bundled interventions resulted in significant improvements for a number of clinical and process outcomes, such as time to analgesia dosing, fewer information omissions, and fewer technical errors.
No results.

ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. February 25, 2021;26(4);1-4.

Leadership roles exist in a variety of clinical areas to support safe, effective practice. This article introduces medication safety officers as a targeted strategy to enhance implementation of initiatives addressing challenges in reducing the safety of pharmaceutical therapies and direct organizational learning from medication errors.
Nadkarni A, Levy-Carrick NC, Kroll DS, et al. National Academy of Medicine; 2021.
Communication within teams is central to safe care delivery, crisis management, and staff well-being. This report shares the experience of one hospital that used technology to enhance information-sharing as a strategy to reduce clinician burnout in times of uncertainty and crisis.

Cornelissen C, Call RC, Harbell MW, et al. APSF Newsletter. February 202136(1);25-27

Error disclosure is supported by a robust safety culture and a defined communication and management approach. This article discusses the engagement of anesthesiologists in the disclosure processes to ensure learning, patient centeredness, and care improvement.

Morris S, O’Hara J. Pharmacuetical Journal. February 26, 2021.

It is a challenge to track medical errors that take place in the home environment, yet it is understood they happen and can cause harm. This article discusses errors that parents make in providing medications to their children. The authors advocate for engaging parents as partners to improve care safety in the home.

Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety. Plymouth Meeting, PA: ECRI Institute; 2021.

Alert fatigue is a recognized contributor to task burden and medical error. This report distilled monitoring, analysis, and optimization experiences to recommend strategies for improving the effectiveness of clinical audible alerts which includes the development of an overarching clinical decision support governance plan.

This Month’s Perspectives

Libby Hoy
Interview
Libby Hoy, Patient Family Advisor (PFA), is the Founder and CEO of Patient Family Centered Care Partners (PFCCpartners). Stephen Hoy is the COO of PFCCpartners. We spoke to them about the current state of measurement of patient and family engagement and potential future directions.
Annual Perspective
In this PSNet Annual Perspective, we review key findings related to improvement strategies when communicating with patients and different structured communication techniques to improve communication across providers. Lessons learned from innovative approaches explored under COVID-19 that could be considered as usual care resumes are also discussed.