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.
Schnipper JL, Reyes Nieva H, Yoon CS, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2023;32:457-469.
Implementing successful interventions to support effective medication reconciliation is an ongoing challenge. The MARQUIS2 study examined whether system- and patient-level interventions plus physician mentors can improve medication reconciliation and reduce medication discrepancies. This analysis based on patient exposure in the MARQUIS2 study found that patient receipt of a best possible medication history (BPMH) in the emergency department and medication reconciliation at admission and discharge were associated with the largest reductions in medication discrepancy rates.
One element of conservative prescribing is minimizing the number of medications prescribed. This study compared the number of unique, newly prescribed medications (personal formularies) of primary care physicians across four health systems. Results indicated wide variability in the number of unique medications at the physician and institution levels. Further exploration of personal formularies and core drugs may illuminate opportunities for safer and more appropriate prescribing.
Schnipper JL, Reyes Nieva H, Mallouk M, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:278-286.
Medication reconciliation aims to prevent adverse events during transitions of care, but implementing effective interventions supporting medication reconciliation has proven challenging. Building upon lessons learned in the MARQUIS1 study, this pragmatic quality improvement study (MARQUIS2) implemented a refined toolkit including system-level and patient-level interventions as well as physician mentors providing remote coaching and in-person site visits. Across 17 hospital sites, the intervention was associated with a significant decrease in unintentional mediation discrepancies over time.
Ganguli I, Simpkin AL, Lupo C, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2:e1913325.
Cascades of care (or follow up) on incidental findings from diagnostic tests are common but are not always clinically meaningful. This study reports the results of a nationally representative group of physicians who were surveyed on their experiences with cascades. Almost all respondents had experienced cascades and many reported harms to patients and personal frustration and anxiety that may contribute to physician burnout.
Schiff G, Klinger E, Salazar A, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2019;34:285-292.
In this cluster-randomized trial, researchers examined the impact of an automated phone call with the option of transfer to a live pharmacist on detecting potential adverse drug events for patients newly started on medications for certain conditions in the primary care setting. Patients receiving the intervention were more likely to have medications stopped with documentation reflecting adverse effects.
Zuckerman RB, Maddox KEJ, Sheingold SH, et al. N Engl J Med. 2017;377:1551-1558.
Under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, hospitals are subject to nonpayment if patients with certain medical conditions are readmitted. Research supports the effectiveness of this program in decreasing readmissions and some have argued for expansion to a hospital-wide readmission measure. Using Medicare claims data, investigators concluded that transitioning to a hospital-wide readmission measure would lead to greater penalties for safety-net hospitals compared to other hospitals, a concern that has been raised with regard to Medicare's Hospital-Acquired Condition Program.
Schiff G, Nieva HR, Griswold P, et al. Med Care. 2017;55:797-805.
A recent AHRQ technical brief on ambulatory safety found that evidence for effective interventions is lacking. This cluster-randomized controlled trial examined whether participation in a multimodal quality improvement intervention enhanced safety processes at primary care clinics compared to usual practice. Using chart review, investigators determined that clinics receiving the intervention—which included a learning network, webinars, in-person meetings, and coaching—improved documentation and patient notification for abnormal test results overall. Also, time between test date and treatment plan was shorter in intervention sites. Through pre–post surveys, they learned that patient perceptions of quality and safety improved modestly for coordination and communication but were otherwise similar between the sites. Staff perceptions of safety and quality were similar pre–post and between intervention and control sites. Barriers to improvement included time and resource constraints, staff turnover, health information technology, and local practice variation. The authors recommend further study to determine the potential for multimodal practice-level interventions to enhance outpatient safety.
Wong A, Amato MG, Seger DL, et al. J Crit Care. 2017;39:156-161.
This retrospective study reviewed more than 47,000 overridden medication alerts and found that the vast majority of overrides were clinically appropriate and did not cause harm. From this sample, 7 adverse drug events were identified, and these events were more likely when the alerts were overridden in error. This study demonstrates the challenge of identifying clinically important alerts in a setting where alert fatigue is common.
Adverse drug events (ADEs) are a common source of patient harm in the ambulatory setting. A substantial proportion of ADEs are caused by preventable errors in medication prescribing or monitoring. The introduction of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) has been shown to reduce the rate of medical errors in the inpatient setting. This before–after study examined rates of ADEs in primary care practices that implemented a CPOE system in Boston and Indianapolis. At baseline, the potential ADE rate was more than seven-fold greater in Indianapolis compared to Boston. Following CPOE implementation, this rate decreased by 56% in Indianapolis but increased by 104% in Boston, and there was no change overall in preventable ADEs. A recent PSNet annual perspective reviewed the relationship and current evidence linking CPOE and patient safety.
Zuckerman RB, Sheingold SH, Orav J, et al. N Engl J Med. 2016;374:1543-51.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's policy on nonpayment for certain hospital readmissions has reduced their incidence. However, this policy change may have unintended consequences. One possible outcome is an increased number of patients who return to the hospital being placed on observation status. Comparing readmission rates and observation stays for targeted and nontargeted conditions, this secondary data analysis examined how observation stay rates changed in parallel with readmission rates. The authors found that readmissions decreased, consistent with prior studies, and observation stays increased. Interestingly, a within-hospital analysis determined that the decline in readmissions was not explained by an increase in observation stays. This finding should allay concerns about this specific unintended consequence of the readmission policy, although other issues such as length of stay changes should be addressed.
Weissman JS, López L, Schneider EC, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2014;26:129-35.
A recent systematic review found that better patient experiences of care are associated with improved patient safety and quality of care. This survey of more than 2500 adults discharged from 16 hospitals in Massachusetts adds to our understanding of this relationship. Patients who self-reported having experienced an adverse event (AE) while hospitalized rated the overall quality of hospital care lower, but this finding was primarily among patients who did not report that the AE they experienced was explicitly disclosed to them. Among patients who experienced an AE, it appeared that patient satisfaction was highest (and nearly equal to satisfaction of patients with error-free hospitalizations) when the error was disclosed, the patients were engaged in their own care, and discharge was perceived as timely. These findings imply that even when patients experience complications, "service recovery" efforts, such as formal error disclosure programs, can positively affect patients' perceptions of the care quality.
Joynt KE, Le ST, Orav J, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:61-7.
This study found no association between hospital chief executive officer (CEO) compensation and mortality rates or readmissions. However, hospitals with higher CEO compensation had significantly more advanced technology and higher patient satisfaction scores.
Overdose of the commonly used over-the-counter analgesic acetaminophen can lead to serious liver toxicity. In the outpatient setting, unintentional acetaminophen overdose has been linked to poor health literacy and lack of standardization of medication instructions. This study of acetaminophen prescribing among inpatients at two academic medical centers found that 6.6% of patients received more than the recommended daily dose of the drug, with elderly patients and patients with preexisting liver disease being most vulnerable to dosing errors. The authors identified several other risk factors for errors, including use of scheduled around-the-clock dosing (instead of as-needed dosing) and prescribing of more than one acetaminophen-containing product. Notably, these errors occurred at hospitals with computerized provider order entry systems, and the authors note that existing clinical decision support systems lack the capability to warn clinicians when the maximum daily dose of a medication is about to be exceeded.
Zhu J, Stuver SO, Epstein AM, et al. Med Care. 2011;49:948-55.
Traditional methods of error detection have relied mainly on provider input or administrative data, without emphasizing the role of the patient in safety. This study of more than 2000 patients recently discharged from Massachusetts hospitals found that patients could identify unique adverse effects of hospitalization that may not have been identified by other methods. Importantly, physician reviewers agreed that the patient-reported events constituted a true clinical adverse event in more than 70% of cases. This finding corroborates prior research showing that patient-reported adverse events provide an important complementary perspective in assessing organizational safety problems.
Allaudeen N, Schnipper JL, Orav J, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2011;26:771-6.
None of the providers directly involved in caring for hospitalized elderly patients—nurses, physicians, or case managers—were able to accurately predict the likelihood that these patients would be readmitted within 30 days of discharge.
Levtzion-Korach O, Frankel A, Alcalai H, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2010;36:402-410.
This provocative study compared safety data from five separate sources to derive a comprehensive picture of institutional safety. The investigators compared safety issues identified through traditional event reporting, patient complaints, executive walk rounds, malpractice claims, and risk management databases, and found that while each method identified important safety problems, there was little overlap in the types of events identified with each reporting mechanism. For example, diagnostic errors were frequently cited in malpractice cases, but executive walk rounds highlighted equipment and supply issues. Prior research confirms the need to use multiple data sources to realistically analyze safety at the institutional level. An accompanying commentary discusses the strengths and limitations of a broad range of safety monitoring methods, including those used in this study.