Skip to main content

August 11, 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

Chalmers K, Gopinath V, Brownlee S, et al. JAMA Health Forum. 2021;2(7):e211719.
Overuse or low-value procedures may result in patient physical, psychological, or emotional harm. This study explored the association between eight low-value care procedures and length of stay (LOS) and cost. All eight procedures were associated with increased LOS and cost, particularly spinal fusion. Patients receiving low-value care may be exposed to increased risk of adverse events and hospital-acquired conditions.
Lopez-Pineda A, Gonzalez de Dios J, Guilabert Mora M, et al. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2021:1-11.
Medication administration errors made by parent or caregivers can result in medication errors at home. This systematic review found that 30% to 80% of pediatric patients experience a medication error at home, and that the risk increases based on characteristics of the caregiver and if a prescription contains more than two drugs.
Alshehri GH, Ashcroft DM, Nguyen J, et al. Drug Saf. 2021;44(8):877-888.
Adverse drug events (ADE) can occur in any healthcare setting. Using retrospective record review from three mental health hospitals, clinical pharmacists confirmed that ADEs were common, and that nearly one-fifth of those were considered preventable.
Patterson ES, Rayo MF, Edworthy JR, et al. Hum Factors. 2021;Epub May 19.
Alarm fatigue can lead to distraction and diminish safe care. Based on findings from their Patient Safety Learning Laboratory, the authors used human factors engineering to develop a classification system to organize, prioritize, and discriminate alarm sounds in order to reduce nurse response times.
Chalmers K, Gopinath V, Brownlee S, et al. JAMA Health Forum. 2021;2(7):e211719.
Overuse or low-value procedures may result in patient physical, psychological, or emotional harm. This study explored the association between eight low-value care procedures and length of stay (LOS) and cost. All eight procedures were associated with increased LOS and cost, particularly spinal fusion. Patients receiving low-value care may be exposed to increased risk of adverse events and hospital-acquired conditions.
Patterson ES, Rayo MF, Edworthy JR, et al. Hum Factors. 2021;Epub May 19.
Alarm fatigue can lead to distraction and diminish safe care. Based on findings from their Patient Safety Learning Laboratory, the authors used human factors engineering to develop a classification system to organize, prioritize, and discriminate alarm sounds in order to reduce nurse response times.
Bulliard J‐L, Beau A‐B, Njor S, et al. Int J Cancer. 2021;149(4):846-853.
Overdiagnosis of breast cancer and the resulting overtreatment can cause physical, emotional, and financial harm to patients. Analysis of observational data and modelling indicates overdiagnosis accounts for less than 10% of invasive breast cancer in patients aged 50-69. Understanding rates of overdiagnosis can assist in ascertaining the net benefit of breast cancer screening.
Gillespie BM, Harbeck EL, Kang E, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(5):e448-e454.
Nontechnical skills such as teamwork and communication can influence surgical performance. This Australian hospital implemented a team training program for surgical teams focused on improving individual and shared situational awareness which led to improvements in nontechnical skills.
Alshehri GH, Ashcroft DM, Nguyen J, et al. Drug Saf. 2021;44(8):877-888.
Adverse drug events (ADE) can occur in any healthcare setting. Using retrospective record review from three mental health hospitals, clinical pharmacists confirmed that ADEs were common, and that nearly one-fifth of those were considered preventable.
Lalani C, Kunwar EM, Kinard M, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;Epub Jul 26.
Medical device-associated errors are common and often result in preventable patient harm. Based on medical device adverse event data reported to the FDA, this study used natural language processing to identify events not classified as deaths even though the patient died. Findings suggest that approximately 17% of medical device events that resulted in death were classified in other categories.
Mills PD, Watts BV, Hemphill RR. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(5):e423-e428.
Researchers reviewed 15 years of root cause analysis reports of all instances of suicide and suicide attempts on Veterans Health Administration (VHA) grounds. Forty-seven suicides or suicide attempts were identified, and primary root causes included communication breakdown and a need for improved suicide interventions. The paper includes recommended actions to address the root causes of attempted and completed patient suicides.
Sajid IM, Parkunan A, Frost K. BMJ Open Quality. 2021;10(3):e001287.
Inappropriate use or overuse of clinical tests such as MRIs can be harmful to patients. This cohort study, including 107 general practitioners across 29 practices, found that only 4.9% of musculoskeletal MRIs were clearly indicated and only 16.7% of results appeared to be correctly interpreted by clinicians, suggesting the potential for significant misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis.
Dahm MR, Williams M, Crock C. Patient Educ Couns. 2021;Epub May 12.
Cognitive biases and poor communication among providers can lead to diagnostic errors. This commentary presents the links between biases, provider communication, and diagnostic error, and proposes how patient engagement and health communication research can improve the diagnostic process.
Bartman T, Merandi J, Maa T, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47(8):526-532.
Safety II is a proactive approach to improving patient safety by learning from what goes right in healthcare. A US children’s hospital developed three tools for frontline clinicians to recognize, mitigate, and learn from potential safety issues at the bedside.
Alexander RG, Yazdanie F, Waite S, et al. Front Neurosci. 2021;15:629469.
Incorrect interpretation of radiologic images can result in delayed diagnosis or unneeded additional tests and treatment. This commentary describes the visual illusions radiologists use in detecting and categorizing abnormalities, and recommends further research into the ways visual illusions are used in order to improve diagnostic safety.
Berry P. Postgrad Med J. 2021;Epub Jul 23.
Staff willingness to speak up about patient safety enables organizations to implement improvements to prevent patient harm. The author describes barriers that trainees face when presented with an opportunity to speak up as well as barriers faced by those who receive the reports. Initiatives to improve trainee speaking up behavior are discussed.
Lopez-Pineda A, Gonzalez de Dios J, Guilabert Mora M, et al. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2021:1-11.
Medication administration errors made by parent or caregivers can result in medication errors at home. This systematic review found that 30% to 80% of pediatric patients experience a medication error at home, and that the risk increases based on characteristics of the caregiver and if a prescription contains more than two drugs.

National Association for Healthcare Quality.  August 26, 2021, 1:00–2:00 PM (eastern).

Communication and Resolution Programs (CRPs) are a successful multidisciplinary coordination strategy to align healing actions with the patient and family after medical error. This session will discuss the impact of CRPs and share program implementation insights. The session features Thomas H. Gallagher, MD, as a speaker.

Renault M. Stat. July 28, 2021.

Care and safety concerns for patients, families, and clinicians continue to be challenged by COVID-19. This article discusses the unintended consequences of isolation practices during the pandemic as a contributor to patient harm due to resultant family support barriers and loneliness they caused.

Rimondini M, Busch IM, eds. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18.

Patient/clinician relationships supported by organizational culture and individual wellness efforts are core to the provision of high-quality care and process improvement engagement. This article collection highlights trainee attitudes about patient safety and how respect and support for enhancing the care experience of both patients and those who care for them are foundational to safe, effective care.

ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. July 29, 2021;26(15);1-5.

Tubing misconnections have been associated with medication administration errors, and yet, design strategies to minimize these mistakes are only beginning to be uniformly implemented. This article shares the story of a contrast media administration error associated with communication and handoff errors. The piece recommends focusing on universal design standards to improve administration along with clinical steps to mitigate the potential for this type of error.

This Month’s WebM&Ms

WebM&M Cases
Minna Wieck, MD |
A seven-year-old girl with esophageal stenosis underwent upper endoscopy with esophageal dilation under general anesthesia. During the procedure, she was fully monitored with a continuous arterial oxygen saturation probe, heart rate monitors, two-lead electrocardiography, continuous capnography, and non-invasive arterial blood pressure measurements. The attending gastroenterologist and endoscopist were serially dilating the esophagus with larger and larger rigid dilators when the patient suddenly developed hypotension. She was immediately given a fluid bolus, phenylephrine, and 100% oxygen but still developed cardiac arrest. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated with cardiac massage, but she could not be resuscitated and died. This commentary highlights the role of communication between providers, necessary technical steps to mitigate the risks of upper endoscopy in children, and the importance of education and training for care team members.
WebM&M Cases
Narath Carlile, MD, MPH, Soheil El-Chemaly, MD, MPH, and Gordon D. Schiff, MD |
A 31-year-old woman presented to the ED with worsening shortness of breath and was unexpectedly found to have a moderate-sized left pneumothorax, which was treated via a thoracostomy tube. After additional work-up and computed tomography (CT) imaging, she was told that she had some blebs and mild emphysema, but was discharged without any specific follow-up instructions except to see her primary care physician. Three days later, the patient returned to the same ED with similar symptoms and again was found to have had a left pneumothorax that required chest tube placement, but the underlying cause was not established. After she was found two weeks later in severe respiratory distress, she was taken to another ED by paramedics where the consulting pulmonary physician diagnosed her with a rare cystic lung disease. The commentary discusses the importance of CT scans for evaluating spontaneous pneumothorax and educating providers to increase awareness of rare cystic lung diseases.
WebM&M Cases
Cynthia Li, PharmD, and Katrina Marquez, PharmD |
This commentary presents two cases highlighting common medication errors in retail pharmacy settings and discusses the importance of mandatory counseling for new medications, use of standardized error reporting processes, and the role of clinical decision support systems (CDSS) in medical decision-making and ensuring medication safety.

This Month’s Perspectives

James_Augustine
Interview
James Augustine, MD, is the National Director of Prehospital Strategy at US Acute Care Solutions where he provides service as a Fire EMS Medical Director. We spoke with him about threats and concerns for patient safety for EMS when responding to a 911 call.
Perspective
This piece discusses EMS patient safety concerns in the field and discusses operational concerns, clinical concerns, and safety of personnel.
Stay Updated!
PSNet highlights the latest patient safety literature, news, and expert commentary, including Weekly Updates, WebM&M, and Perspectives on Safety. Sign up today to get weekly and monthly updates via emails!