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.
Large malpractice claims databases are increasingly used as a proxy to assess the frequency and severity of diagnostic errors. More than 5,300 closed claims with at least one diagnostic error were analyzed. No singular factor was identified; instead multiple contributing factors were implicated along the diagnostic pathway.
Wong J, Lee S-Y, Sarkar U, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2022;79:2230-2243.
Medication errors in ambulatory care settings represent an ongoing patient safety challenge. This study characterizes ambulatory care adverse drug events reported to a large patient safety organization between May 2012 and October 2018. Anticoagulants, antibiotics, hypoglycemics, and opioids were the most commonly involved medication classes. Contributing factors included prescribing errors, failure to review clinical contraindications or drug-drug interactions, and lack of patient education or communication.
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.
Olazo K, Wang K, Sierra M, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:539-548.
Patients and families prefer to be told if they experience a medical error. Given that marginalized patients experience medical errors at higher rates, it is important to understand their unique perspectives and preferences towards error disclosure. This systematic review identified 6 studies focused on error disclosure in one of three marginalized populations (older adults, low education attainment, racial and/or ethnic minority).
Gupta K, Szymonifka J, Rivadeneira NA, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:492-496.
Analysis of closed malpractice claims can be used to identify potential safety hazards in a variety of clinical settings. This analysis of closed emergency department malpractice claims indicates that diagnostic errors dominate, and clinical judgment and documentation categories continue to be associated with a higher likelihood of payout. Subcategories and contributing factors are also discussed.
Fontil V, Khoong EC, Lyles C, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:395-402.
Missed or delayed diagnosis in primary care may result in serious complications for patients. This prospective study followed adults presenting to primary care with new or unresolved symptoms for 12 months. 32% of patients received a diagnosis within one month; most of the rest still did not have a diagnosis at 12 months (50%). The authors suggest interventions aimed at improving diagnosis should be system-based, not specific to a single medical issue or population.
Strategies to reduce clinician burnout related to adverse events are critically needed. Physicians in the United States were surveyed on their experiences with adverse events to identify facilitators and barriers to reducing burnout. A common facilitator was peer support, and barriers included shame and a punitive work environment.
Patients and families represent an often untapped resource in identifying errors and adverse events. Using a mobile health tool, pediatric patients and families were encouraged to report safety events that occurred during the child’s hospital stay. These reports were compared with incident reports (IRs) submitted to the internal incident reporting system. Of the 51 potential IR observations, only one had been submitted to the IR system. Notably, differences in the number of reported events varied by race, ethnicity, insurance status, and other marginalized groups, highlighting a need to explicitly engage these populations.
Khoong EC, Sharma AE, Gupta K, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2022;37:1270-1274.
In response to concerns about COVID-19 transmission, many ambulatory care visits have transitioned to telehealth visits. This commentary describes the impact of telehealth on diagnostic errors and medication safety in ambulatory settings. Recommendations to further understand the impact of telemedicine on patient safety include: systematically measuring patient safety outcomes and increasing reporting of safety incidents; identifying the patients and clinical scenarios with the greatest risk of unsafe telehealth care; identifying and supporting best practices to ensure equal access to safe telehealth.
Sharma AE, Huang B, Del Rosario JB, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001421.
Patients and caregivers play an essential role in safe ambulatory care. This mixed-methods analysis of ambulatory safety reports identified three themes related to patient and caregivers factors contributing to events – (1) clinical advice conflicting with patient priorities, (2) breakdowns in communication and patient education contributing to medication adverse events, and (3) the fact that patients with disabilities are vulnerable to due to the external environment.
Khoong EC, Fontil V, Rivadeneira NA, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020;28:632-637.
Diagnostic over- and under-confidence in primary care can result in misdiagnosis, impacting millions of patients every year. This intervention study evaluated the effect of peer input on diagnostic confidence on cases with diagnostic uncertainty. In cases with high diagnostic uncertainly, peer input increased provider confidence.
Sharma AE, Yang J, Del Rosario JB, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:5-14.
Ambulatory care settings are receiving increased attention as a focus for patient safety improvements. Using data from a multistate patient safety organization (PSO) database, the researchers sought to characterize patterns and characteristics of patient safety incidents reported in ambulatory care settings. Analyses found that 5.9% of events resulted in severe harm and 1.9% resulted in patient death. Over half of the events were from outpatient subspecialty care; fewer events occurred in home/community (5.2%), primary care (2.1%), or dialysis (2.0%) settings. Medication-related events were most common, followed by clinical deterioration and falls. Predictors of higher harm included diagnostic errors, patient/caregiver challenges, and events occurring in home/community or psychiatric settings. These results can help ambulatory care settings target safety events and develop systems-level prevention strategies.
This study used direct observation and interviews to assess hazards in the medication use process in a sample of ambulatory patients who predominantly had low health literacy. The investigators found that the outpatient medication use process is fragmented and complex with poor coordination between clinicians, pharmacists, and insurance companies, forcing patients to develop self-management strategies to manage their chronic health conditions.
The use of collective intelligence platforms may have the potential to improve diagnostic accuracy in primary care, but little is known about the attitudes of primary care providers toward such platforms. This qualitative study found that primary care providers might be willing to use such platforms as long as they are easy to use, perceived as helpful and accurate, and that the collective opinions generated can be trusted.
Gupta K, Lisker S, Rivadeneira NA, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:564-573.
Physicians who experience emotional consequences after adverse events are referred to as second victims. In this survey study of 5782 physicians who identify as mothers, nearly half reported involvement in an error. Most of those respondents described feeling guilt and were more likely to report burnout. Participants reported a wide variety of errors; treatment errors were the most common but diagnostic errors were associated with more severe harm to patients. The authors conclude that strategies to mitigate burnout among second victims are urgently needed. A previous PSNet interview discussed the second victim phenomenon and interventions to address it.
Khoong EC, Cherian R, Rivadeneira NA, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37:1760-1769.
California's Medicaid pay-for-performance program requires safety-net health care systems to report and improve upon diverse ambulatory safety measures. Researchers found that participating safety-net hospitals struggled to report accurate data. Systems had more success improving metrics that placed patients at risk of life-threatening harm when compared to metrics that required longer term follow-up or patient engagement.
Sharma AE, Rivadeneira NA, Barr-Walker J, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37:1813-1820.
Patient and family engagement efforts can affect health care quality and safety. This review examined the research on patient engagement efforts and found evidence of robust examinations of patient engagement related to patient self-management of anticoagulation medications. However, there was mixed-quality evidence on patient involvement in medication administration errors, documentation and scheduling accuracy, hospital readmissions, and health care–associated infections. They recommend areas of research needed to guide the application of patient engagement strategies.
Giardina TD, Haskell H, Menon S, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37:1821-1827.
Reducing harm related to diagnostic error remains a major focus within patient safety. While significant effort has been made to engage patients in safety, such as encouraging them to report adverse events and errors, little is known about patient and family experiences related specifically to diagnostic error. Investigators examined adverse event reports from patients and families over a 6-year period and found 184 descriptions of diagnostic error. Contributing factors identified included several manifestations of unprofessional behavior on the part of providers, e.g., inadequate communication and a lack of respect toward patients. The authors suggest that incorporating the patient voice can enhance knowledge regarding why diagnostic errors occur and inform targeted interventions for improvement. An Annual Perspective discussed ongoing challenges associated with diagnostic error.
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Ackerman SL, Gourley G, Le G, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e773-e790.
Patients in safety-net health systems may face unique patient safety risks. This study sought to use a consensus approach to develop standard measures for tracking safety gaps in ambulatory care in health systems that primarily serve vulnerable populations. The investigators identified nine measures suitable for tracking two high-priority safety gaps: notifying patients of actionable test results and monitoring patients with high-risk conditions.