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September 7, 2022 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

Dumitrescu I, Casteels M, De Vliegher K, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:435-443.
Medication errors and other adverse events are thought to occur in 10% of home care patients. This Delphi study identified 27 high-risk medications (e.g., oral chemotherapy, anticoagulants) in home care nursing that require a specific procedure and an additional 28 that warrant additional monitoring. Home care agencies and researchers should focus on developing and evaluating policies to improve safety of high-risk medications.
Kraemer KL, Althouse AD, Salay M, et al. JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3:e222263.
Nudges (e.g., default order sets) in the electronic health record (EHR) have been shown to encourage safer prescribing of opioids in emergency departments. This study evaluated the effect of nudges to reduce opioid prescribing for opioid-naïve patients with acute pain. Primary care practices were cluster randomized to control, opioid justification in the EHR, peer comparison, or combined opioid justification and peer comparison groups. The three intervention groups showed reduced opioid prescribing compared to control.
Moore T, Kline D, Palettas M, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2023;38:55-60.
Fall prevention is a safety priority in hospital settings. This study found that Smart Socks – socks containing pressure sensors that detect when a patient is trying to stand up – reduced fall rates among patients at risk of falls in one hospital’s neurological and neurosurgical department. Over a 13-month period, investigators observed a decreased fall rate (0 per 1000 patient days) among patients wearing Smart Socks compared to prior to intervention implementation (4 per 1000 patient days).
Stayt LC, Merriman C, Bench S, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2022;78:3371-3384.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed healthcare delivery across all settings. This qualitative study explored perceptions of patient safety in intensive care among nurses redeployed to intensive care settings during the pandemic. Nurses reported increases in patient safety risks during the pandemic, which were largely attributed to changes in nursing skill mix and poor continuity of care.
Factora F, Maheshwari K, Khanna S, et al. Anesth Analg. 2022;135:595-604.
Rapid response teams (RRT) are designed to intervene at the earliest signs of clinical deterioration to prevent intensive care unit transfer, cardiac arrest, or death. This study presents the changes of in-hospital mortality rates following implementation of RRT, introduction of anesthesiologist-led RRT, and other policy changes. Results indicate a gradual decline of in-hospital mortality in the nine-year period following RRT introduction.
Kraemer KL, Althouse AD, Salay M, et al. JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3:e222263.
Nudges (e.g., default order sets) in the electronic health record (EHR) have been shown to encourage safer prescribing of opioids in emergency departments. This study evaluated the effect of nudges to reduce opioid prescribing for opioid-naïve patients with acute pain. Primary care practices were cluster randomized to control, opioid justification in the EHR, peer comparison, or combined opioid justification and peer comparison groups. The three intervention groups showed reduced opioid prescribing compared to control.
Moore T, Kline D, Palettas M, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2023;38:55-60.
Fall prevention is a safety priority in hospital settings. This study found that Smart Socks – socks containing pressure sensors that detect when a patient is trying to stand up – reduced fall rates among patients at risk of falls in one hospital’s neurological and neurosurgical department. Over a 13-month period, investigators observed a decreased fall rate (0 per 1000 patient days) among patients wearing Smart Socks compared to prior to intervention implementation (4 per 1000 patient days).
Soto C, Dixon-Woods M, Tarrant C. Arch Dis Child. 2022;107:1038-1042.
Children with complex medical needs are vulnerable to patient safety threats. This qualitative study explored the perspectives of parents with children living at home with a central venous access device (CVAD). Parents highlight the persistent fear of central line-associated blood stream infections as well as the importance of maintaining a sense of normalcy for their children.
Dumitrescu I, Casteels M, De Vliegher K, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:435-443.
Medication errors and other adverse events are thought to occur in 10% of home care patients. This Delphi study identified 27 high-risk medications (e.g., oral chemotherapy, anticoagulants) in home care nursing that require a specific procedure and an additional 28 that warrant additional monitoring. Home care agencies and researchers should focus on developing and evaluating policies to improve safety of high-risk medications.
Tsilimingras D, Natarajan G, Bajaj M, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:462-469.
Post-discharge events, such as medication errors, can occur among pediatric patients discharged from inpatient settings to home. This prospective cohort, including infants discharged from one level 4 NICU between February 2017 and July 2019, identified a high risk for post-discharge adverse events, (including procedural complications and adverse drug events) and subsequent emergency department visits or hospital readmissions. Nearly half of these events were due to management, therapeutic, or diagnostic errors and could have been prevented.
Müller BS, Lüttel D, Schütze D, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:444-448.
Effective patient safety improvement efforts address safety threats at the individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels. This study characterizes safety measures described in incident reports from German outpatient care settings. Of the 243 preventative measures identified across 160 reports, 83% of preventative measures were classified by the research team as “weak,” meaning that they focus on influencing human behavior rather than on treating underlying problems (e.g., alerts, trainings, double checks).
Baimas-George M, Ross SW, Hetherington T, et al. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2022;93:409-417.
Emergency surgery carries an increased risk of death compared to elective surgery. This study used a regional electronic health record (EHR) to examine clinical risk factors associated with mortality in emergency general surgery. Risk factors for both inpatient and 1-year mortality included older age, underweight, neutropenia, and elevated lactate.
Brösterhaus M, Hammer A, Gruber R, et al. PLoS ONE. 2022;17:e0272853.
Healthcare organizations use trigger tools to identify potential errors or adverse events in the electronic health record (EHR), measure the frequency of errors, and track safety improvements. Three hospitals in Germany conducted a feasibility study of implementing the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Global Trigger Tool (GTT) in two general surgery units and one neurosurgery unit. Twenty-two feasibility criteria were developed (low-, moderate-, problematic-level of challenge) which may help guide successful implementation of the GTT.
Koch A, Kozhumam A. Health Promot Pract. 2022;23:555-559.
Racial biases have been uncovered in pediatric emergency care; for example, Black children are less likely to receive pain medication for appendicitis. This article describes the use of the Racism as Root Cause (RRC) framework to identify and reduce adultification (when children are perceived or treated as being older than they are) of Black children in emergency departments. RRC calls for systemic, rather than individual, efforts.
Linzer M, Sullivan EE, Olson APJ, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2022;Epub Aug 22.
Challenging working conditions and increased cognitive workload can result in stress and burnout. This article describes a conceptual framework in which working conditions and cognitive workload impact stress and burnout, which, in turn, impacts diagnostic accuracy. Potential uses and testing of the framework are described.
Calhoun A, Genao I, Martin A, et al. Acad Med. 2022;97:790-792.
Terminology can negatively influence commitment to change that drives improvement effort success. This commentary discusses the weaknesses of the term “implicit bias,” in that it is too general in nature to result in tangible reduction of structural racism in health care.
Adler-Milstein J, Sarkar U, Wachter RM. J Patient Saf Risk Manag. 2022;27:160-162.
Electronic health records (EHR) house and provide access to a plethora of data to inform care and management decisions. This commentary suggests that EHRs have yet to be fully embraced as a tool to proactively identify areas of risk that could lead to legal action.
Taylor DJ, Goodwin D. J Med Ethics. 2022;48:672-677.
Normalization of deviance describes a situation where individuals, teams or organizations accept a lower standard of performance until that lower standard becomes the “norm” and can threaten patient safety. This article describes five serious medical errors in obstetrics and highlights how normalization of deviance contributed to each event.
Hoffman S. J Med Regulation. 2022;108:19-28.
Patient safety advocates have called for cognitive testing of aging clinicians and some health systems have attempted instituting such policies as part of their recredentialing program. This commentary calls for state medical boards to adopt cognitive testing as part of the recredentialling process within the confines of legal boundaries.
Villa Zapata L, Subbian V, Boyce RD, et al. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2022;290:380-384.
Computerized decision support systems can alert clinicians to drug-drug interactions (DDIs), but the alert fatigue contributes to alert overrides. This scoping review includes 34 studies from the United States and international settings and identified a high prevalence of DDI alert overrides. The authors discuss the need for improved decision support systems to improve DDI alerts and actionable metrics to measure harms associated with alert overrides.
Meeting/Conference Proceedings

Philadelphia, PA: Building Trust and the ABIM Foundation; September 13, 2022. 

Trust in patient safety processes encourages reporting of concerns, learning from error, and development of safety-focused patient/family partnerships. This session discussed how criminal actions against clinicians who err, challenge the balance needed to ensure that patients can trust the health care system to hold those accountable when error occurs, while enabling clinicians to trust their reported mistakes to be managed appropriately.

Collaborative for Accountability and Improvement. September 15, 2022.

Communication and resolution program (CRP) success draws from the participation of staff skilled in constructive dialogue after adverse events. This webinar described a coaching program to prepare individuals for CRP conversations to ensure their effectiveness for patients, families, and professionals involved in adverse incidents.

Washington DC; National Quality Forum and Anticoagulation Forum; 2022.

Warfarin and other anticoagulants are high-alert medications that, if errors occur in their use, can result in considerable harm. This document advocates that a stewardship approach be applied to anticoagulant therapy to reduce the risk of adverse events and discusses steps to implement and sustain a program to guide the safe, effective use of anticoagulants.

ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition! August 25, 2022:27(17)1-6.

Unanticipated health information system downtime can occur for technical or malicious reasons and healthcare organizations should be prepared for such disruptive events. This article highlights training, planning, simulation, and leadership support as key elements in the successful response to unplanned information system events to manage staff stress and patient safety.
Health Affairs Forefront. 2022;August 26.
The safety of commercial aviation has been a model for health care, yet achieving their level of reliability has been evasive. This piece suggests that weaknesses in voluntary reporting, hazard communication, and human factors design, all of which are core to aviation's success, are contributing to the lack of similar success in health care.

This Month’s WebM&Ms

WebM&M Cases
Carla S. Martin, MSN, RN, CIC, CNL, NEA-BC, FACHE, Shannon K. Reese, BSN, RN, VABC, and Margaret Brown-McManus, MSN, RN, CNL |
This case describes a 20-year-old woman was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and occlusive thrombus in the right brachial vein surrounding a  peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line (type, gauge, and length of time the PICC had been in place were not noted). The patient was discharged home but was not given any supplies for cleaning the PICC line, education regarding the signs of PICC line infection, or referral to home health services. During follow-up several days after discharge, the patient’s primary care provider noted that the PICC dressing was due to be changed and needed to be flushed, but the outpatient setting lacked the necessary supplies. An urgent referral to home health was placed, but the agency would be unable to attend to the patient for several days. The primary care provider changed the dressing, and the patient was referred to the emergency department for assessment. The commentary summarizes the risks of PICC lines, the role of infection prevention practices during the insertion and care of PICC lines, and the importance of patient education and skill assessment prior to discharge home with a PICC line.
WebM&M Cases
Samson Lee, PharmD, and Mithu Molla, MD, MBA |
This WebM&M highlights two cases where home diabetes medications were not reviewed during medication reconciliation and the preventable harm that could have occurred. The commentary discusses the importance of medication reconciliation, how to compile the ‘best possible medication history’, and how pharmacy staff roles and responsibilities can reduce medication errors.
WebM&M Cases
Commentary by Jennifer Rosenthal, MD, MAS and Michelle Hamline, MD, PhD, MAS |
A 2-year-old girl presented to her pediatrician with a cough, runny nose, low grade fever and fatigue; a nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza was negative and lung sounds were clear. The patient developed a fever and labored breathing and was taken to the Emergency Department (ED) before being admitted to the hospital. She developed respiratory distress and clinically worsened over time until she developed respiratory failure requiring air transportation to the pediatric intensive care unit at a children’s hospital. She was ultimately diagnosed with adenovirus after developing conjunctivitis and bronchiolitis. After 3 days of continuous monitoring and treatment in the PICU, the patient was alert, responsive, and hungry. She was taken off supplemental oxygen after about 24 more hours, transferred to a regular pediatric bed, and then discharged to outpatient follow-up care. The commentary addresses patient safety risks associated with pediatric interfacility transfers and strategies to mitigate preventable harms due to poor provider-provider communication, provider-family communication, and family engagement.

This Month’s Perspectives

Freya Spielberg
Perspective
Freya Spielberg MD, MPH, is the Founder and CEO of Urgent Wellness LLC, a social enterprise dedicated to improving the health of Individuals living in low-income housing in Washington, DC. Previously, as an Associate Professor at George Washington University, and at the University of Texas Dell Medical School, and School of Public Health, she developed a curriculum in Community Oriented Quality Improvement, to train the next generation of healthcare providers how to integrate population health into primary care to achieve the quintuple aim of better health outcomes, better patient experience, better provider experience, lower health care costs, and decreased health disparities. We spoke with her about her ongoing work in low-income communities to improve access to primary care and its impact on patient safety.
Jack Westfall
Interview
Jack Westfall, MD MPH, is a retired professor from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Former Director of the Robert Graham Center. We spoke with him about the role of primary care in the health and well-being of individuals, the hallmarks of high quality primary care and opportunities of primary care providers to enhance or promote patient safety.
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