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Sidi A, Gravenstein N, Vasilopoulos T, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(6):e490-e496.
Nontechnical skills, such as teamwork and communication, can influence performance in technical fields like surgery or emergency medicine. This study found that simulation-based assessments can measure improvements in nontechnical skills and cognitive performance among residents.
Boquet A, Cohen T, Diljohn F, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(6):e534-e539.
This study classified flow disruptions affecting the anesthesia team during cardiothoracic surgeries. Disruptions were classified into one of six human factors categories: communication, coordination, equipment issues, interruptions, layout, and usability. Interruptions accounted for nearly 40% of disruptions (e.g., events related to alerts, distractions, searching activity, spilling/dropping, teaching moment).
Cohen JB, Patel SY. Anesth Analg. 2021;133(3):816-820.
Designated safety leadership roles are situated to direct and sustain organizational safety progress. This commentary describes an anesthesiology safety officer function and how it is positioned to motivate staff safety behaviors and support engagement during project challenges.
Grundgeiger T, Hurtienne J, Happel O. Hum Factors. 2020;63(5):821-832.
The usability of information technology continues to be a challenge in health care. The authors suggest that consideration of the user is critical to improving interaction with technology and thus increasing patient safety. They provide a theoretical foundation for considering user experience in healthcare.
Chua K-P, Brummett CM, Conti RM, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;Epub Aug 16.
Despite public policies and guidelines to reduce opioid prescribing, providers continue to overprescribe these medications to children, adolescents, and young adults. In this analysis of US retail pharmacy data, 3.5% of US children and young adults were dispensed at least one opioid prescription; nearly half of those included at least one factor indicating they were high risk. Consistent with prior research, dentists and surgeons were the most frequent prescribers, writing 61% of all opiate prescriptions.
Douglas RN, Stephens LS, Posner KL, et al. Br J Anaesth. 2021;127(3):470-478.
Effective communication among providers helps ensure patient safety. Through analysis of perioperative malpractice claims using the Anesthesia Closed Claims Project database, researchers found that communication failures contributed to 43% of total claims, with the majority between the anesthesiologist/anesthesia team and the surgeon/surgery team. Methods to improve perioperative communication are discussed.
Agnoli A, Xing G, Tancredi DJ, et al. JAMA. 2021;326(5):411-419.
Sudden discontinuation of opioids has been linked to increased patient harm. This observational study evaluated the link between tapering and overdose, and mental health crisis among patients who were receiving long-term opioid therapy. Patients who underwent dose tapering had an increased risk of overdose and mental health crisis compared to those who did not undergo dose tapering. 

A 61-year-old male was admitted for a right total knee replacement under regional anesthesia. The surgeon – unaware that the anesthesiologist had already performed a right femoral nerve block with 20 ml (100mg) of 0.5% racemic bupivacaine for postoperative analgesia – also infiltrated the arthroplasty wound with 200 mg of ropivacaine. The patient was sedated with an infusion of propofol throughout the procedure.

Abraham J, Pfeifer E, Doering M, et al. Anesth Analg. 2021;132(6):1563-1575.
Intraoperative handoffs between anesthesiologists are frequently necessary but are not without risk. This systematic review of 14 studies of intraoperative handoffs and handoff tools found that use of handoff tools has a positive impact on patient safety. Additional research is needed around design and implementation of tools, particularly the use of electronic health records to record handoffs.  
Strand NH, Mariano ER, Goree JH, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2021;96(6):1394-1400.
Systemic racism in healthcare can threaten patient safety and contribute to heath disparities. This commentary outlines an “inside-out” approach to fostering antiracism in pain medicine and suggests approaches to stem systemic racism in training programs, practice settings, device and pharmaceutical industry, and professional organizations.

A 34-year-old morbidly obese man was placed under general anesthesia to treat a pilonidal abscess. Upon initial evaluation by an anesthesiologist, he was found to have a short thick neck, suggesting that endotracheal intubation might be difficult. A fellow anesthetist suggested use of video-laryngoscopy equipment, but the attending anesthesiologist rejected the suggestion. A first-year resident attempted to intubate the patient but failed.

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.
Weprin SA, Meyer D, Li R, et al. Patient Saf Surg. 2021;15(1):14.
A retained surgical sharp (RSS) is a never event. Operating room (OR) team members, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, were surveyed regarding their experiences with actual and near-miss sharps (NMS). While nearly all team members reported experiencing at least one RSS or NMS in the past year, responses to other survey items varied by professional group. Surgeons were less likely to perceive that a sharp had been lost as compared to other OR team members, indicating a potential under-report bias. Improved communication between team members may increase identification, and therefore reporting, of RSS and NMS, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; June 3, 2021.

Wrong site/wrong patent surgery is a persistent healthcare never event. This report examines National Health Service (NHS) reporting data to identify how ambulatory patient identification errors contribute to wrong patient care. The authors recommend that the NHS use human factors methods to design control processes to target and manage the risks in the outpatient environment such as lack of technology integration, shared waiting area space, and reliance on verbal communication at clinic.

Preckel B, ed. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2021;35(1):1-154.

Surgical patients are at high risk for harm, should errors occur. This special issue covers areas of concern in perioperative anesthesia care that include patient allergies, age, sex and gender considerations, and incident reporting system effectiveness.

Institute for Safe Medication Practices

The perioperative setting is a high-risk area for medication errors, should they occur. This assessment provides hospitals and outpatient surgical providers a tool to examine their medication use processes and share data nationwide for comparison. Organizational participation can identify strengths and gaps in their systems to design opportunities that prevent patient harm. The deadline for submitting data is December 10, 2021.

MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; May 4. 2021.

Anesthesia medications can be high risk should dosing errors occur. This company announcement reports a recall of two lots of anesthetics that have been mislabeled to mitigate the potential for patient harm due to misinformation.
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.