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December 15, 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

Centola D, Guilbeault D, Sarkar U, et al. Nature Commun. 2021;12(1):6585.
Race and gender bias in healthcare remains a public health problem. Study participants were assigned to a control (i.e., independent reflection) or intervention (i.e., “egalitarian” information exchange network) group and asked to provide diagnostic and treatment recommendations for standardized patients (a white man or a black woman). Participants in the intervention group were more likely to recommend appropriate care and showed no bias in final recommendations. The authors note that these findings indicate that clinician network interventions might be useful in healthcare settings to reduce disparities in patient treatment.
Ciapponi A, Fernandez Nievas SE, Seijo M, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021;11(11):CD009985.
Medication errors can lead to harm in hospitalized patients including increased length of stay, lower quality of life, increased morbidity, and even death. This review of 65 studies and 110,875 patients examined interventions (primarily medication reconciliation) and their effect on reducing adverse drug events. Findings revealed mostly low to moderate certainty about the effectiveness of medication reconciliation and low certainty on other interventions, emphasizing the importance of research that has greater power and is methodologically sound.
Shen L, Levie A, Singh H, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;Epub Oct 29.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges associated with diagnostic error. This study used natural language processing to identify and categorize diagnostic errors occurring during the pandemic. The study compared a review of all patient safety reports explicitly mentioning COVID-19, and using natural language processing, identified additional safety reports involving COVID-19 diagnostic errors and delays. This innovative approach may be useful for organizations wanting to identify emerging risks, including safety concerns related to COVID-19.

Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2021. AHRQ Publication No. 22-0009.

In consultation with AHRQ, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services delivered a final report on effective strategies to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors to Congress. Required by the Patient Safety Act of 2005, the report was made available for public review and comment, and review by the National Academy of Medicine. It outlined several strategies to accelerate progress in improving patient safety, including using analytic approaches in patient safety research, measurement, and practice improvement to monitor risk; implementing evidence-based practices in real-world settings through clinically useful tools and infrastructure; encouraging the development of learning health systems that integrate continuous learning and improvement in day-to-day operations; and encouraging the use of patient safety strategies outlined in the National Action Plan by the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety.
Shen L, Levie A, Singh H, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;Epub Oct 29.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges associated with diagnostic error. This study used natural language processing to identify and categorize diagnostic errors occurring during the pandemic. The study compared a review of all patient safety reports explicitly mentioning COVID-19, and using natural language processing, identified additional safety reports involving COVID-19 diagnostic errors and delays. This innovative approach may be useful for organizations wanting to identify emerging risks, including safety concerns related to COVID-19.
Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, Edwards M, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2021;71(713):e931-e940.
In an effort to address increased patient demand and resulting patient safety concerns, England implemented a policy of general practitioners working in or alongside emergency departments. Thirteen hospitals using this service model were included in this study to explore care processes and patient safety concerns. Findings are grouped into three care processes: facilitating appropriate streaming decisions, supporting GPs’ clinical decision making, and improving communication between services.
Ottosen MJ, Sedlock EW, Aigbe AO, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):e1145-e1151.
This qualitative study explored the long-term impacts experienced by patients and family members involved in medical harm events. Participants described psychological, social/behavioral, and financial impacts and more than half reported ongoing physical impacts.
Bickmore TW, Olafsson S, O'Leary TK. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(11):e30704.
Patients and families increasingly access mobile apps, conversational assistants, and the internet to find information about health conditions or medications. In a follow up to an earlier study, researchers evaluated two approaches to determine the likelihood that patients would act upon the information received from conversational assistants.
Thomas AD, Pandit C, Krevat SA. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):e1605-e1608.
Building on prior research, this study identified racial differences in voluntarily reported near-miss events. Compared to white patients, black patients had fewer reported events but were more likely to experience near-miss events related to laboratory/specimen handling, blood bank, and safety/security.
Kotwal S, Fanai M, Fu W, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8(4):489-496.
Previous studies have used virtual patient cases to help trainees and practicing physicians improve diagnostic accuracy. Using virtual patients, this study found that brief lectures combined with 9 hours of supervised deliberate practice improved the ability of medical interns to correctly diagnose dizziness.
Wallis KA, Elley CR, Moyes SA, et al. BJGP Open. 2021;Epub Oct 15.
Common high-risk medications such as antiplatelets and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have the potential to cause serious patient harm. This randomized trial examined the usefulness of an existing intervention to support safer prescribing in general practice to improve safe high-risk prescribing.
Liu C, McKenzie A, Sutkin G. J Surg Edu. 2021;78(6):1938-1947.
Communication failures are a common cause of patient harm. This qualitative study found that potentially ambiguous language is common in surgical training settings. In addition to creating challenges for trainee comprehension of surgical instruction, ambiguous language can lead to miscommunications and near misses.
Jomaa C, Dubois C‐A, Caron I, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2021;Epub Nov 30.
Nurses play a critical role in ensuring patient safety. This study explored the association between the organization of nursing services and patient safety incidents in rehabilitation units. Findings highlight the key role of appropriate nurse staffing in reducing the incidence of events such as falls and medication errors
Hannawa AF, Wu AW, Kolyada A, et al. Patient Educ Couns. 2021;Epub Oct 30.
In this qualitative study, researchers explore physician, nurse, and patient perspectives about what features constitute “good” and “poor” care episodes. Participants highlighted the importance of quickly identifying and responding to errors and failures as one key component of good quality care.
Centola D, Guilbeault D, Sarkar U, et al. Nature Commun. 2021;12(1):6585.
Race and gender bias in healthcare remains a public health problem. Study participants were assigned to a control (i.e., independent reflection) or intervention (i.e., “egalitarian” information exchange network) group and asked to provide diagnostic and treatment recommendations for standardized patients (a white man or a black woman). Participants in the intervention group were more likely to recommend appropriate care and showed no bias in final recommendations. The authors note that these findings indicate that clinician network interventions might be useful in healthcare settings to reduce disparities in patient treatment.
Mital R, Lovegrove MC, Moro RN, et al. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2022;31(2):225-234.
Accidental ingestion of over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines (CCMs) among children can result in adverse events. This study used national surveillance data to characterize emergency department (ED) visits for harms related to OTC CCM use and discusses differences by patient demographics, intent of use, and concurrent substance use.
Attia E, Fuentes A, Vassallo M, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2021;Epub Nov 2.
Anti-coagulants are classified as high-risk medications due to their potential to cause serious patient harm if not administered correctly. This hospital created a multidisciplinary anticoagulant safety taskforce to reduce errors and improve patient safety. The article describes the implementation process, including the use of the 2017 Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) Medication Safety Self-Assessment for Antithrombotic Therapy tool.
Brenner MJ, Boothman RC, Rushton CH, et al. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2021;55(1).
This three-part series offers an in-depth look into the core values of honesty, transparency, and trust. Part 1, Promoting Professionalism, introduces interventions to increase provider professionalism. Part 2, Communication and Transparency, describes the commitment to honesty and transparency across the continuum of the patient-provider relationship. Part 3, Health Professional Wellness, describes the impact of harm on providers and offers recommendations for restoring wellness and joy in work.
Ciapponi A, Fernandez Nievas SE, Seijo M, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021;11(11):CD009985.
Medication errors can lead to harm in hospitalized patients including increased length of stay, lower quality of life, increased morbidity, and even death. This review of 65 studies and 110,875 patients examined interventions (primarily medication reconciliation) and their effect on reducing adverse drug events. Findings revealed mostly low to moderate certainty about the effectiveness of medication reconciliation and low certainty on other interventions, emphasizing the importance of research that has greater power and is methodologically sound.
International Meeting/Conference

McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Office of Continuing Professional Development, and McMaster Education Research, Innovation, and Theory. February 16, 2022 (10:00 AM –4:00 PM (eastern).

Clinical reasoning is vulnerable to a variety of cognitive and environmental conditions that can affect its accuracy. This virtual conference will explore how artificial intelligence, system influences, and social integrity impact clinical reasoning.

Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. December 2, 2021;(24)1-4.

Insulin is a high-alert medication that requires extra attention to safely manage blood sugar levels in chronic or acutely ill patients. This alert highlights look-alike/sound-alike packaging, delayed medication reconciliation, and dietary monitoring gaps as threats to safe insulin administration in emergencies. Recommendations for improvement are provided for both general in-hospital, and post-discharge care.
Press Release/Announcement

National Alert Network. Horsham, PA: Institute for Safe Medication Practices; Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. December 6, 2021. 

Vaccine missteps are known to occur during flu and COVID-19 inoculation efforts. This announcement raises awareness of misadministration of COVID vaccines associated with patient age. It highlights storage protocols as one approach to minimize mistakes. This alert is part of a national program to distribute learnings from report analysis to improve medication safety.

Rockville MD, Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. December 7, 2021.

The TeamSTEPPS program is an established approach for improving teamwork and communication in health care. This announcement calls for feedback from healthcare teams and team members on how to update the current TeamSTEPPS training curriculum. The deadline for submitting comments is January 10, 2022.

Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2021. AHRQ Publication No. 22-0009.

In consultation with AHRQ, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services delivered a final report on effective strategies to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors to Congress. Required by the Patient Safety Act of 2005, the report was made available for public review and comment, and review by the National Academy of Medicine. It outlined several strategies to accelerate progress in improving patient safety, including using analytic approaches in patient safety research, measurement, and practice improvement to monitor risk; implementing evidence-based practices in real-world settings through clinically useful tools and infrastructure; encouraging the development of learning health systems that integrate continuous learning and improvement in day-to-day operations; and encouraging the use of patient safety strategies outlined in the National Action Plan by the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety.
Special or Theme Issue

Ruskin KJ, ed. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2021;34(6):720-765

Anesthesia services are high risk despite progress made in the specialty to improve its safety. This special section covers issues that affect anesthesia safety such as critical incident debriefing, human factors, and educational strategies.

This Month’s WebM&Ms

WebM&M Cases
Spotlight Case
Hannah Spero, MSN, APRN, Angela E. Usher, PhD, LCSW, Brian Howard MS1, and Frederick J. Meyers, MD |
A 77-year-old man was diagnosed with a rectal mass. After discussing goals of care with an oncologist, he declined surgical intervention and underwent targeted radiotherapy before being lost to follow up. The patient subsequently presented to Emergency Department after a fall at home and was found to have new metastatic lesions in both lungs and numerous enhancing lesions in the brain. Further discussions of the goals of care revealed that the patient desired to focus on comfort and on maintaining independence for as long as possible. The inpatient hospice team discussed the potential role of brain radiotherapy for palliation to meet the goal of maintaining independence. The patient successfully completed a course of central nervous system (CNS) radiation, which resulted in improved strength, energy, speech, and quality of life. This case represents a perceived delay in palliative radiation, an “error” in care. The impact of the delay was lessened by the hospice team who role modeled integration of disease directed therapy with palliative care, a departure from the historic model of separation of hospice from disease treatment. 
WebM&M Cases
Gary S. Leiserowitz, MD, MS and Herman Hedriana, MD |
A 32-year-old pregnant woman presented with prelabor rupture of membranes at 37 weeks’ gestation. During labor, the fetal heart rate dropped suddenly and the obstetric provider diagnosed umbilical cord prolapse and called for an emergency cesarean delivery. Uterine atony was noted after delivery of the placenta, which quickly responded to oxytocin bolus and uterine massage. After delivery, the patient was transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and monitored for 90 minutes, after which she was deemed stable, despite some abnormal vital signs. All monitor alarm functions were silenced to help the patient rest until a bed became available on the maternity floor. After another 90 minutes, the patient’s nurse discovered her unresponsive and the bedsheets were blood-soaked. A massive transfusion was ordered and uterotonic medications were administered, but vaginal bleeding continued. During an emergency laparotomy, the uterus was noted to be atonic despite uterotonic therapy, requiring an emergency hysterectomy. The commentary discusses the importance and use of early maternal warning systems, checklists and protocols to avoid poor maternal outcomes.
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