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Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Baltimore, MD. April 17-18, 2024.
Institute for Healthcare Improvement. March 13 - April 23, 2024.
This WebM&M describes two cases illustrating several types of Electronic Health Record (EHR) errors, with a common thread of erroneous use of electronic text-generation functionality, such as copy/paste, copy forward, and automatically pulling information from other electronic sources to populate clinical notes. The commentary discusses other EHR-based documentation tools (such as dot phrases), the influence of new documentation guidelines, and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to capture documentation.
This case describes an older adult patient with generalized abdominal pain who was eventually diagnosed with inoperable bowel necrosis. Although she appeared well and had stable vital signs, triage was delayed due to emergency department (ED) crowding, which is usually a result of hospital crowding. She was under-triaged and waited three hours before any diagnostic studies or interventions commenced. Once she was placed on a hallway gurney laboratory and imaging studies proceeded hastily.
This case highlights two “never events” involving the same patient. A first-year orthopedic surgery resident was consulted to aspirate fluid from the left ankle of a patient in the intensive care unit. The resident, accompanied by a second resident, approached the wrong patient and inserted the needle into the patient’s right ankle. At this point, a third resident entered the room and stated that it was the incorrect patient. The commentary highlights the importance of a proper time out and approaches to improve communication among all members of the care team.
A 14-year-old girl was admitted to the hospital with a new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes mellitus without ketoacidosis. Before discharge, medications intended for home use were delivered to the patient’s bedside, but the resident physician noticed a discrepancy. An insulin pen and pen needles had been ordered, but an insulin vial and extra insulin syringes were delivered. Neither the patient nor the parents had received education on how to draw up and administer insulin using a vial and syringe.
Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; August 2023.
Addressing diagnostic errors to improve outcomes and patient safety has long been a problem in the US healthcare system.1 Many methods of reducing diagnostic error focus on individual factors and single cases, instead of focusing on the contribution of system factors or looking at diagnostic errors across a disease or clinical condition. Instead of addressing individual cases, KP sought to improve the disease diagnosis process and systems. The goal was to address the systemic root cause issues in systems that lead to diagnostic errors.
Concern over patient safety issues associated with inadequate tracking of test results has grown over the last decade, as it can lead to delays in the recognition of abnormal test results and the absence of a tracking system to ensure short-term patient follow-up.1,2 Missed abnormal tests and the lack of necessary clinical follow-up can lead to a late diagnosis.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2022-2023.
Allen A. KFF Health News. June 21, 2023.
A 55-year-old man presented in hypotensive shock, presumably due to bacterial pneumonia superimposed on COPD. The nurse placed an arterial line appropriately in the patient’s radial artery for hemodynamic monitoring, but this line was inadvertently used to infuse an antibiotic. The patient experienced acute arterial thrombosis with resulting hand ischemia but responded to rapid thrombolytic and anticoagulant therapy.
A 25-year-old obese patient required an emergency cesarean delivery. As the obstetric team was in a hurry to deliver the baby, the team huddle was rushed. After the delivery, the anesthesia care provider discovered that the patient had received subcutaneous enoxaparin 40 mg four hours preoperatively, which was not mentioned by the obstetric team during the previous huddle.