Skip to main content

July 28, 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

Geerts JM, Kinnair D, Taheri P, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2120295.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of health care delivery and has placed unprecedented pressure on health care workers. This consensus statement, based on input from an international panel of individuals with expertise in health leadership, health care, and public health, outlines 10 imperatives to guide health and public leaders during the post emergency stage of the pandemic. Imperatives addressed in the framework include supporting staff well-being and psychological health, preparing for future emergencies, managing the backlog of delayed care, and the importance of sustaining learning, innovations and collaborations that arose during the pandemic.

Andel SA, Tedone AM, Shen W, et al. J Adv Nurs. Epub 2021 Jul 10.

During the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, 120 nurses were surveyed about nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, skill mix, and near misses in their hospitals. Personnel understaffing led to increased use of workarounds, and expertise understaffing led to increased cognitive failures, both of which shaped near misses. Hospital leaders should recognize both forms of understaffing when making staffing decisions, particularly during times of crisis.
Bubric KA, Biesbroek SL, Laberge JC, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;Epub May 24.
Unintentionally retained foreign objects (RFO) following surgery is a never event. In this study, researchers observed 36 surgical procedures to quantify and describe interruptions and distractions present during surgical counting. Interruptions (e.g., the surgeon or another nurse talking to the scrub nurse) and distractions (e.g., music, background noise) were common. Several suggestions to minimize interruptions and distractions during surgical counts are made.
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!

This Month’s WebM&Ms

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.
WebM&M Cases
Robin Aldwinckle, MD |
A 61-year-old male was admitted for a right total knee replacement under regional anesthesia. The surgeon – unaware that the anesthesiologist had already performed a right femoral nerve block with 20 ml (100mg) of 0.5% racemic bupivacaine for postoperative analgesia – also infiltrated the arthroplasty wound with 200 mg of ropivacaine. The patient was sedated with an infusion of propofol throughout the procedure. At the end of the procedure, after stopping the propofol infusion, the patient remained unresponsive, and the anesthesiologist diagnosed the patient with Local Anesthetic Systemic Toxicity (LAST). The commentary addresses the symptoms of LAST, the importance of adhering to local anesthetic dosing guidelines, and the essential role of effective communication between operating room team members.
WebM&M Cases
Spotlight Case
Kriti Gwal, MD |
A 52-year-old man complaining of intermittent left shoulder pain for several years was diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury and underwent left shoulder surgery. The patient received a routine follow-up X-ray four months later. The radiologist interpreted the film as normal but noted a soft tissue density in the chest and advised a follow-up chest X-ray for further evaluation. Although the radiologist’s report was sent to the orthopedic surgeon’s office, the surgeon independently read and interpreted the same images and did not note the soft tissue density or order any follow-up studies. Several months later, the patient’s primary care provider ordered further evaluation and lung cancer was diagnosed. The commentary discusses how miscommunication contributes to delays in diagnosis and treatment and strategies to facilitate effective communication between radiologists and referring clinicians.  
Gabrysz-Forget F, Zahabi S, Young M, et al. J Surg Educ. 2021;Epub Apr 24.
An essential part of resident training is error recovery- recognizing an error has occurred and strategizing how to correct the error to maximize patient safety. Through interviews with surgical residents, barriers and facilitators to experience error recovery were supervision, self, surgical context, and situation safeness. Focusing on these factors may enhance residents’ ability to develop their error recovery skills.
Driessen RGH, Latten BGH, Bergmans DCJJ, et al. Virchows Arch. 2020;478(6):1173-1178.
Autopsies are an important tool for detecting misdiagnoses. Autopsies were performed on 32 septic individuals who died within 48 hours of admission to the intensive care unit. Of those, four patients were found to have class I missed major diagnosis. These results underscore the need to perform autopsies to improve diagnosis.

Leitch S, Dovey S, Cunningham W, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11(7):e048316.

In this retrospective study, researchers examined patient records to describe patient harm occurring in primary care settings in New Zealand. The majority of harms were minor; 4.5% of harms were considered severe. Nearly 82% of non-fatal harms were considered not preventable and generally arose from routine care.
van Dael J, Gillespie A, Reader TW, et al. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2021;Epub Jul 7.
This retrospective study linked patient complaint data with staff incident reports to better understand the causes and severity of patient harm. Staff reported incidents with linked patient complaints frequently described greater harm from the safety incident and often noted adjacent safety events not reported by staff. The researchers explored linked events that generated contested patient and staff accounts, and how differing interpretations of the same incidents can support organizational learning.
Morrison AK, Gibson C, Higgins C, et al. Pediatr Qual Saf. 2021;6(4):e425.
Limited health literacy can lead to patients or caregivers misunderstanding care instructions. Researchers examined safety events occurring at one children’s hospital over a nine-month period and found that health literacy-related events accounted for 4% of all safety events. Health literacy-related events generally involved problems with medication (e.g., unclear discharge medication instructions, conflicting instructions), system processes (e.g.., failures to address language barriers), and discharge and transitions (e.g., unclear equipment information, unclear instructions about upcoming tests).
Barbara L, Roberta DB, Vanda R, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;Epub May 20.
Patient safety indicators can help hospitals identify and prevent potential adverse events. Researchers in this study developed a conceptual framework for monitoring patient safety and a set of fifteen actionable patient safety indicators.
Park J, Saha S, Chee B, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2117052.
The patient-provider relationship plays an important role in the delivery of safe, quality health care.  Using electronic encounter notes, this qualitative study describes physician language used to express negative and positive attitudes toward the patient. While positive attitudes were generally expressed via explicit language (e.g., direct compliments), negative attitudes were not explicit and often expressed through questioning patient credibility, disapproval of patient reasoning or self-care, stereotyping, portraying the patient as difficult, and emphasizing physician authority over the patient.
Bubric KA, Biesbroek SL, Laberge JC, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;Epub May 24.
Unintentionally retained foreign objects (RFO) following surgery is a never event. In this study, researchers observed 36 surgical procedures to quantify and describe interruptions and distractions present during surgical counting. Interruptions (e.g., the surgeon or another nurse talking to the scrub nurse) and distractions (e.g., music, background noise) were common. Several suggestions to minimize interruptions and distractions during surgical counts are made.

Andel SA, Tedone AM, Shen W, et al. J Adv Nurs. Epub 2021 Jul 10.

During the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, 120 nurses were surveyed about nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, skill mix, and near misses in their hospitals. Personnel understaffing led to increased use of workarounds, and expertise understaffing led to increased cognitive failures, both of which shaped near misses. Hospital leaders should recognize both forms of understaffing when making staffing decisions, particularly during times of crisis.
Adie K, Fois RA, McLachlan AJ, et al. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2021;Epub May 23.
Medication errors are a common cause of patient harm. This study analyzed medication incident (MI) reports from thirty community pharmacies in Australia. Most errors occurred during the prescribing stage and were the result of interrelated causes such as poor communication and not following procedures/guidelines. Further research into these causes could reduce medication errors in the community.
Chladek MS, Doughty C, Patel B, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(3):e001254.
The I-PASS handoff bundle has been successful at improving patient safety during handoffs in the hospital. A pediatric emergency department implemented the I-PASS bundle to improve handoffs between medical residents. Results showed a 53% decrease in omissions of crucial information and residents perceived improvement in patient safety.
Kern-Goldberger AR, Kneifati-Hayek J, Fernandes Y, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2021;Epub Jul 9.
Patient misidentification errors can result in serious patient harm. The authors reviewed over 1.3 million electronic orders for inpatients at one New York hospital between 2016 and 2018 and found that wrong-patient order errors occurred more frequently on obstetric units than medical-surgical units. Medication errors were the largest source of order errors and commonly involved antibiotics and opioid and non-opioid analgesics.
Scott IA, Hubbard RE, Crock C, et al. Intern Med J. 2021;51(4):488-493.
Sound critical thinking skills can help clinicians avoid cognitive biases and diagnostic errors. This article describes three critical thinking skills essential to effective clinical care – clinical reasoning, evidence-informed decision-making, and systems thinking – and approaches to develop these skills during clinician training.
Geerts JM, Kinnair D, Taheri P, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2120295.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of health care delivery and has placed unprecedented pressure on health care workers. This consensus statement, based on input from an international panel of individuals with expertise in health leadership, health care, and public health, outlines 10 imperatives to guide health and public leaders during the post emergency stage of the pandemic. Imperatives addressed in the framework include supporting staff well-being and psychological health, preparing for future emergencies, managing the backlog of delayed care, and the importance of sustaining learning, innovations and collaborations that arose during the pandemic.
AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(6):E471-479.
The prescribing and provision of medications sought after for abuse carries with it a professional obligation to limit access to medications when requests are of uncertain origin. This article describes legal, cognitive, and organizational culture influences on safe prescribing of controlled substances.
Wong CW, Tafuro J, Azam Z, et al. J Cardiac Failure. 2021;Epub May 25.
Misdiagnosis of cardiovascular conditions can lead to serious patient harm. This systematic review explored misdiagnosis of heart failure. Based on 10 included studies, the rate of heart failure misdiagnosis ranged from 16.1% (in an inpatient setting) to 68.5% (when general practitioners referred patients to specialists). Included studies found that heart failure is frequently misdiagnosed as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health. Oct 1 - Dec 17, 2021.

Leaders have a distinct role in creating a culture that supports a high reliability organization(HRO). This virtual series will train senior acute care, long-term care, or skilled nursing facility staff to apply HRO concepts that support safe healthcare environments.

Pattani A. NPR Shots. July 14, 2021.

Patients with substance abuse disorders face challenges to safe, effective care. This news story highlights how pressures associated with access and cost affect identification of these vulnerable patients and their ability to receive treatment after they arrive at an emergency room.
Multi-use Website

Academic Medical Center Patient Safety Organization.

Patient Safety organizations (PSO) are in a unique position to educate their members and the larger community on patient safety challenges. This PSO resource collection includes guidelines, papers and alerts drawn from the experiences the membership group to inform action covering topics such as virtual visits and inter-hospital transfers.

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.