The AHRQ PSNet Collection comprises an extensive selection of resources relevant to the patient safety community. These resources come in a variety of formats, including literature, research, tools, and Web sites. Resources are identified using the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database, various news and content aggregators, and the expertise of the AHRQ PSNet editorial and technical teams.
Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, Cooke M, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2021;21:139.
Overcrowding in the emergency department (ED) can result in increased frequency of medication errors, in-hospital cardiac arrest, and other patient safety concerns. This study examined diagnostic errors after introducing a new healthcare service model in which emergency departments are co-located with general practitioner (GP) services. Potential priority areas for improvement include appropriate triage, diagnostic test interpretation, and communication between GP and ED services.
Gibson R, MacLeod N, Donaldson LJ, et al. Addiction. 2020;115:2066-2076.
Methadone and buprenorphine are commonly prescribed to treat opioid use disorder, but their use presents patient safety risks. Using national data from England and Wales, this study analyzed 2,284 patient safety incident reports and found that harmful incidents involving opioid substitution treatment with methadone or buprenorphine in community-based care stemmed from errors in dispensing practices (e.g. wrong patient, incorrect dose, incorrect formulation). Staff- and organization-related factors – such as not following protocols, poor continuity of care – contributed to more than half of the incidents.
Omar A, Rees P, Cooper A, et al. Arch Dis Child. 2020;105:731-777.
Using a national database of patient safety incident reports in the United Kingdom, this study characterized primary care-related incidents among vulnerable children and used thematic analysis to identify priority areas for systems improvement. Over 1,100 incident reports were identified; nearly half resulted in some degree of harm but most (39%) were considered ‘low harm.’ Children with protection-related vulnerabilities experienced harm from unsafe care more frequently than children with social-, psychological, or physical vulnerabilities. The authors identified system priority action areas to mitigate harm among vulnerable children, including improving provider access to accurate information and reducing delays in provider referrals.
Hussain F, Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2019;19:77.
This retrospective study reviewed incident reports to characterize diagnostic errors occurring in emergency departments in England and Wales. The majority of incidents (86%) were delayed diagnoses; the remainder were wrong diagnoses. The authors identified three themes stemming from human factors that contributed to the diagnostic errors: insufficient assessment (e.g., failure to order imaging or refer patients when indicated), inappropriate response to diagnostic imaging, and failure to order diagnostic imaging. Potential interventions to address these contributors are briefly discussed.
Donaldson LJ, Lemer C, Titcombe J. BMJ. 2019;365:l2037.
This commentary recommends that health care structure the work environment to address conditions that allow for failure. The authors discuss how increased commitment to collective accountability for improvement will result in the robust infrastructure, proactive risk assessment, and cultural conditions needed to ensure patient safety.
Yardley I, Yardley S, Williams H, et al. Palliat Med. 2018;32:1353-1362.
The frequency and nature of adverse events experienced by patients receiving palliative care remains unknown. In this mixed-methods study, researchers analyzed patient safety incidents among patients receiving palliative care from a national database in England over a 12-year period. They found that pressure ulcers, medication errors, and falls were the most frequently reported types of events and conclude that there is significant opportunity to improve the safety of palliative care.
Cooper J, Williams H, Hibbert P, et al. Bull World Health Organ. 2018;96:498-505.
The World Health Organization International Classification for Patient Safety enables measurement of safety incident severity. In this study, researchers describe how they adapted the system to primary care. Their harm severity classification emphasizes psychological harm, hospitalizations, near misses, and uncertain outcomes in addition to traditional markers of harm.
Cooper J, Edwards A, Williams H, et al. Ann Fam Med. 2017;15:455-461.
Poor safety culture has been identified as a barrier to incident reporting. Researchers analyzed a sample of family practice patient safety incident reports from the England and Wales National Reporting and Learning System and found that blame was attributed to an individual in almost half of the reports. The authors suggest that successfully using incident reports to improve safety requires a shift to blame-free culture.
Ginsburg LR, Dhingra-Kumar N, Donaldson LJ. BMJ Open. 2017;7:e016110.
In the United States, patient safety is a required competency within residency training. Despite the dissemination of the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum internationally, little is known about its implementation in low- and middle-income countries. This cross-sectional survey study found that while 30 of 44 countries surveyed were considering implementing a patient safety curriculum, significant barriers to successful implementation persist.
Cooper A, Edwards A, Williams H, et al. Age Ageing. 2017;46:833-839.
According to this mixed-methods analysis of 8 years of data, the most common voluntarily reported incidents involving older primary care patients in England and Wales were related to medication errors and inadequate communication between providers. Many of these errors occurred during the transition home after hospital discharge. These data provide targets for further research to develop methods for improving safety in ambulatory care.
Rees P, Edwards A, Powell C, et al. PLoS Med. 2017;14:e1002217.
Since the inception of the patient safety movement, most research has focused on the inpatient setting. Although the focus on ambulatory safety has grown in recent years, little is known about adverse events in outpatient pediatric care. In this mixed methods study, researchers analyzed incident reports involving sick pediatric primary care patients from the England and Wales' National Reporting and Learning System over a 9-year period. Using descriptive and thematic analysis, researchers sought to identify the most common and serious event types, reasons these events occurred, and opportunities for improving safety. They found that about one third of 2191 safety incidents represented cases of severe harm. Based on their analysis, the authors conclude that efforts should focus on building safer systems for medication dispensing in community pharmacies, enhancing the triage process for sick children, and improving communication between providers and parents. An accompanying editorial discusses the value of incident reports with regard to improving care for pediatric primary care patients.
Carson-Stevens A, Hibbert P, Williams H, et al. National Institute for Health Research; 2016:1-76.
Management and analysis of incident reporting data must be enhanced in order to realize the potential for learning and improvement from reporting activities. This publication explored primary care incidents reported in England and Wales over an 8-year period. Investigators found inconsistencies and gaps in information collected, including a lack of defined reasons explaining why incidents occurred. Despite weaknesses in the data, they were able to categorize the types of incidents and prioritize system improvements needed to optimize incident reporting as a patient safety improvement strategy.
Panesar SS, deSilva D, Carson-Stevens A, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2016;25:544-53.
Patient safety in ambulatory care settings has received less attention than in the hospital setting, where the patient safety movement originated. This systematic review commissioned by the World Health Organization examined patient safety incidents in primary care. Estimates diverged widely between studies, and most patient safety incidents did not lead to harm. However, the types of incidents most likely to cause harm were missed and delayed diagnoses and medication prescribing problems. The accompanying editorial highlights the need to implement consistent and clear definitions for patient safety incidents and associated harm and advocates for investment in research and improvement efforts for patient safety in primary care.
Measuring patient safety for individual hospitals and health systems remains a challenge. Incident reports provide one lens into patient safety, despite concerns about under-reporting. Numerous incident reports may indicate either a high number of errors or a robust safety culture that encourages blame-free event reporting. Therefore, it is unclear whether the volume of incident reports should serve as a patient safety metric. In this study, investigators analyzed all incident reports from the national reporting system in the United Kingdom and determined that hospitals with fewer litigation claims had more incident reports. They found no association between mortality or patient satisfaction and number of reports, and more incident reporting took place where survey results indicated a positive safety culture. These findings suggest that having a high quantity of incident reports does not signify an error-prone environment, and the authors recommend against using incident reporting rates as a quality metric. A past PSNet perspective discussed incident reporting systems as tools for improving patient safety.