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ECHO-Care Transitions (ECHO-CT) intends to ensure continuity of care and alleviate the risk of patient safety issues, notably medication errors, occurring because of hospital transition. With funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) adapted Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) to connect receiving multidisciplinary skilled nursing facility (SNF) teams with a multidisciplinary team at the discharging hospital. Within one week of discharge, hospital providers discuss each patient’s transitional and medical issues with providers at the SNF using videoconferencing technology. The innovation has successfully reduced patient readmission and SNF length of stay.

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.
Werner NE, Rutkowski RA, Krause S, et al. Appl Ergon. 2021;96:103509.
Shared mental models contribute to effective team collaboration and communication. Based on interviews and thematic analysis, the authors explored mental models between the emergency department (ED) and skilled nursing facility (SNF). The authors found that these healthcare professionals had misaligned mental models regarding communication during care transitions and healthcare setting capability, and that these misalignments led to consequences for patients, professionals, and the organization.
Abraham J, Meng A, Sona C, et al. Int J Med Inform. 2021;151:104458.
Standardized handoff protocols from the operating room to the intensive care unit have improved patient safety, but clinician compliance and long-term sustainability remain poor. This study identified four phases of post-operative handoff associated with risk factors: pre-transfer preparation, transfer and set up, report preparation and delivery, and post-transfer care. The authors recommend “flexibly standardized” handoff intervention tools for safe transfer from operating room to intensive care.
Carman E-M, Fray M, Waterson P. Appl Ergon. 2021;93:103339.
This study analyzed incident reports, discharge planning meetings, and focus groups with hospital and community healthcare staff to identify barriers and facilitators to safe transitions from hospital to community. Barriers included discharge tasks not being complete, missing or inaccurate information, and limited staff capacity. Facilitators include  improved staff capacity and good communication between hospital staff, community healthcare staff, and family members. The authors recommend that hospital and community healthcare staff perspectives be taken into account when designing safe discharge policies.
Hada A, Coyer F. Nurs Health Sci. 2021;23(2):337-351.
Safe patient handover from one nursing shift to the next requires complete and accurate communication between nurses. This review aimed to identify which nursing handover interventions result in improved patient outcomes (i.e., patient falls, pressure injuries, medication administration errors). Interventions differed across the included studies, but results indicate that moving the handover to the bedside and using a structured approach, such as Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) improved patient outcomes.

Two separate patients undergoing urogynecologic procedures were discharged from the hospital with vaginal packing unintentionally left in the vagina. Both cases are representative of the challenges of identifying and preventing retained orifice packing, the critical role of clear handoff communication, and the need for organizational cultures which encourage health care providers to communicate and collaborate with each other to optimize patient safety.

Massa S, Wu J, Wang C, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47(4):242-249.
The objective of this mixed methods study was to characterize training, practices, and preferences in interprofessional handoffs from the operating room to the intensive care unit (OR-to-ICU). Anesthesia residents, registered nurses, and advanced practice providers indicated that they had not received enough preparation for OR-to-ICU handoffs in their clinical education or on-the-job training. Clinicians from all professions noted a high value of interprofessional education in OR-to-ICU handoffs, especially during early degree programs would be beneficial.
van Heesch G, Frenkel J, Kollen W, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;47(4):234-241.
Poor handoff communication can threaten patient safety. In this study set in the Netherlands, pediatric residents were asked to develop a contingency plan for patients received during handoffs and asked to recall information from that handoff five hours later. Results indicate that engaging in deliberate cognitive processing during handoffs resulted in better understanding of patients’ problems, which could contribute to improved patient safety.

In this PSNet Annual Perspective, we review key findings related to improvement strategies when communicating with patients and different structured communication techniques to improve communication across providers. Lessons learned from innovative approaches explored under COVID-19 that could be considered as usual care resumes are also discussed.

Abraham J, Meng A, Tripathy S, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(6):513-524.
Handoffs are essential to communicating important information and preventing adverse outcomes. This systematic review found that bundled interventions commonly used to support handoffs between the operating room and intensive care units included information transfer/communication checklists and protocols. A meta-analysis showed that bundled interventions resulted in significant improvements for a number of clinical and process outcomes, such as time to analgesia dosing, fewer information omissions, and fewer technical errors.
Hensgens RL, El Moumni M, IJpma FFA, et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2020;46(6):1367-1374.
Missed injuries and delayed diagnoses are an ongoing problem in trauma care. This cohort study conducted at a large trauma center found that inter-hospital transfer of severely injured patients increases the risk of delayed detection of injuries. For half of these patients, the new diagnoses led to a change in treatment course. These findings highlight the importance of clinician vigilance when assessing trauma patients.

A 55-year-old man undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia was admitted to the hospital with a fever, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia but physical examination did not reveal a focal site of infection. Blood and urine cultures were obtained, and he was started on IV antibiotics. His fever persisted and the cross-covering physician, following sign-out instructions from the primary team, requested repeat blood cultures but did not evaluate the patient in person.

Kannampallil T, Lew D, Pfeifer EE, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(9):755-763.
Prior research has found that intraoperative anesthesia handovers can increase patient morbidity and mortality. However, this retrospective cohort study, focused on pediatric surgical patients treated, found that intraoperative anesthesia handovers were not associated with adverse postoperative outcomes.  

 A 3-month-old male infant, born at 26 weeks’ gestation with a history of bowel resection and anastomosis due to necrotizing enterocolitis, was readmitted for abdominal distension and constipation. He was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for management of severe sepsis and an urgent exploratory laparotomy was scheduled for suspected obstruction. The PICU team determined that the patient was stable for brief transport from the PICU to the operating room (OR).

After a breast mass was identified by a physician assistant during a routine visit, a 60-year-old woman received a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The radiology assessment was challenging due to dense breast tissue and ultimately interpreted as “probably benign” findings. When the patient returned for follow-up 5 months later, the mass had increased in size and she was referred for a biopsy.

Shah C, Sanber K, Jacobson R, et al. J Grad Med Educ. 2020;12(5):578-582.
Standardized handoff tools can reduce adverse events among hospitalized patients. This retrospective cohort study found that the I-PASS handoff tool’s illness severity assessment can identify patients at higher risk of overnight clinical deterioration and rapid response team (RRT) activation. Patients who were flagged as being at risk for higher levels of care or whose illness trajectory was uncertain were significantly more likely to have an overnight RRT activation compared with stable patients. The authors suggest that this approach can help overnight residents prioritize patient care.  
Ihlebæk HM. Int J Nurs Stud. 2020;109:103636.
Using ethnographic methods, this study explored the impact of ‘silent report’ (computer-mediated handover) on nurses’ cognitive work and communication. The authors summarize four emerging themes, which highlight and characterize the importance of oral communication to ensure accurate and useful handovers.
Haydar B, Baetzel A, Stewart M, et al. Anesth Analg. 2020;131(1):245-254.
Children undergoing intrahospital transport are at risk for adverse events. This study used perioperative adverse event data reported to a patient safety organization to identify pediatric anesthesia transport-associated adverse events. A small proportion (5%) of pediatric anesthesia adverse events were associated with transport, but the majority of events were deemed preventable and one-third resulted in patient harm. Cardiac arrest and respiratory events occurred most frequently and largely affected very young children (<6 month). A previous WebM&M discussed a perioperative respiratory event in a pediatric patient during intrahospital transport.