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Alboksmaty A, Beaney T, Elkin S, et al. The Lancet Digital Health. 2022;4:e279-e289.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a rapid transition of healthcare from in-person to remote and virtual care. This review assessed the safety and effectiveness of pulse oximetry in remote patient monitoring (RPM) of patients at home with COVID-19. Results show RPM was safe for patients in identifying risk of deterioration. However, it was not evident whether remote pulse oximetry was more effective than other virtual methods, such as virtual visits, monitoring consultations, or online or paper diaries.
Casalino LP, Li J, Peterson LE, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2022;41:549-556.
Physician burnout has been associated with higher rates of self-reported medical errors and increased costs related to physician turnover. This analysis linked survey data from family physicians to Medicare claims to explore any association of burnout with four objective measures of care outcomes (ambulatory care-sensitive admissions, ambulatory care-sensitive emergency department visits, readmissions, or costs). There was no consistent, statistically significant relationship between burnout and the four measures of care outcomes and further research on this relationship is warranted.
Cucchiaro SÉ, Princen F, Goreux JË, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2022;34:mzac014.
Patient satisfaction surveys, unexpected event reports and patient complaints can each be used to improve patient safety. This radiotherapy service combined the three sources to make improvements in safety and quality. Results highlighted areas of strength (e.g., physical healing, kindness) and areas to improve (e.g., scheduling, comfort). Involving the patient in this way could lead to improvements in quality and safety.
El Abd A, Schwab C, Clementz A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:230-236.
Older adults are at high risk for 30-day unplanned hospital readmission. This study identified patient-level risk factors among patients 75 years or older who were initially hospitalized for fall-related injuries. Risk factors included being a male, abnormal concentration of C-reactive protein, and anemia. Discharge programs targeting these patients could reduce 30-day unplanned readmissions.
Fitzgerald KM, Banerjee TR, Starmer AJ, et al. Pediatr Qual Saf. 2022;7:e539.
I-PASS is a structured handoff tool designed to improve communication between teams at change-of-shift or between care settings. This children’s hospital implemented an I-PASS program to improve communication between attending physicians and safety culture. One year after the program was introduced, all observed handoffs included all five elements of I-PASS and the duration of handoff did not change. Additionally, the “handoff and transition score” on the Agency for Healthcare Quality (AHRQ) Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture improved.
Khansa I, Pearson GD. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2022;10:e4203.
Some clinicians experience profound emotional distress following an adverse event, known as the “second victim” phenomenon. This study of surgical residents in the US found that most residents who reported being part of a medical error had subsequent emotional distress, including guilt, anxiety, and insomnia. Importantly, while three quarters of residents reported they did not get emotional support following the event, all those who did get support reported benefiting from it.
Kwok Y-ting, Lam M-sang. BMJ Open Qual. 2022;11:e001696.
Changes in healthcare delivery and care processes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the risk for falls. This study explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of a fall prevention program (focused on human factors and ergonomics principles) on inpatient fall rates at one hospital in Hong Kong. Findings indicate that fall rates significantly increased from pre-COVID to during the first wave of the pandemic (July-June 2020). The fall prevention program – implemented in July 2020 – led to a reduction of fall rates, but not to pre-pandemic levels.
Nowak B, Schwendimann R, Lyrer P, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19:2796.
Diagnostic error and misdiagnosis of stroke patients can lead to preventable adverse events, such as treatment delays and adverse outcomes. Researchers at a Swiss hospital retrospective reviewed patients admitted for transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ischemic stroke and found that a trigger tool could accurately identify preventable events among patients with adverse events and no-harm incidents. The most common preventable events were medication events, pressure injuries, and healthcare-associated infections.
Olsen SL, Søreide E, Hansen BS. J Patient Saf. 2022;Epub Apr 4.
Rapid response systems (RRS) are widely used to identify signs of rapid deterioration among hospitalized patients.  Using in situ simulation, researchers identified obstacles to effective RRS execution, including inconsistent education and documentation, lack of interpersonal trust, and low psychological safety.
Tham N, Fazio T, Johnson D, et al. World J Surg. 2022;46:1249-1258.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in infection control and prevention measures to limit nosocomial spread. This retrospective cohort study found that escalations in infection prevention and control practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect the incidence of other hospital-acquired infections among surgical patients at one Australian hospital. The authors posit that this may be due to high compliance with existing infection prevention and control practices pre-pandemic.
Yale S, Cohen S, Bordini BJ. Crit Care Clin. 2022;38:185-194.
A broad differential diagnosis can limit missed diagnostic opportunities. This article outlines how diagnostic timeouts, which are intended reduce bias during the identification of differential diagnoses, can improve diagnosis and reduce errors.

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2022;79(7): 564-599.

Pharmacists have a central role in ensuring medication safety during healthcare delivery. This report outlines standards for the delivery of safe, high-quality pharmacy services including how pharmacy departments should be placed within the health system and how health system processes can support safe medication use and pharmacy practice.

Laber-Warren E. MedPage Today. April 5, 2022.

Resident autonomy is an essential component to medical training, but it is not without patient safety risks. This news article highlights situations where resident autonomy should be disclosed to patients (such as instances of overlapping surgeries) and the value of transparency about the role of surgical team members.

Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; April 7, 2022. RFA-HS-22-008.

Improving diagnosis and reducing diagnostic errors are patient safety priorities. This announcement supports the development of Diagnostic Centers of Excellence focused on improving frontline diagnostician support and improving diagnostic systems (i.e., improving diagnostic precision through consensus, improving “truth” or diagnostic reference standards). Applications are due by June 9, 2022.
Martin K, Bickle K, Lok J. Int J Mental Health Nurs. 2022;31:897-907.
Cognitive biases can compromise decision making and contribute to poor care. In this study, nurses were provided two patient vignettes as well as associated clinical notes written using either biased or neutral language and asked to make clinical decisions regarding PRN (“as needed”) medication administration for sleep. The study identified a relationship between biased language and clinical decision-making (such as omitting patient education when administering PRN medications).
Reijmerink IM, Bos K, Leistikow IP, et al. Br J Surg. 2022;109:573-575.
Organizational, environmental, and work-related factors can contribute to performance variations and human error during healthcare delivery. This study examined perioperative sentinel events reported to a Dutch database over a one-year period. It found that although performance variability continued in almost all events, it was rarely explicitly mentioned in incident reports or represented in resulting improvement measures. The authors suggest that explicitly addressing performance variability in sentinel event analyses can lead to more effective improvement measures that account for human performance in healthcare.

Cognitive biases are ways in which a particular person understands events, facts, and other people based on their own set of beliefs and experiences, which may or may not be reasonable or accurate. People are often unaware of the influence of their cognitive biases. Examples of common cognitive biases include:

  • Confirmation bias (e.g., neglecting evidence that goes against your belief); anchoring bias (prioritizing information/data that supports one’s initial impressions);
  • Framing bias (the manner by which data are presented);
  • Authority bias (when a higher authority provides information); 
  • Affect heuristic (when actions are swayed by emotion versus rational decisions).

Cognitive bias impacts patient safety in a variety of ways. For example, cognitive biases can lead to diagnostic errors because they disrupt physicians’ and advanced practice providers’ processes to gather and interpret evidence and take appropriate actions. Authority bias is common in healthcare; for example, nurses tend to accept opinions of physicians on face value.
 

Related terms: Confirmation bias, availability bias, rule of thumb

Closed loop communication consists of exchanging clear, concise information, and acknowledging receipt of the information to confirm its understanding. The communication is addressed to a specific person on the clinical team by name and the recipient repeats the message back to the sender. Such communication enhances patient safety by preventing confusion, ensuring that teams operate under a shared mental model, and that a specific person is responsible for completing the task.

Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased sense of accomplishment at work that results in overwhelming symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, cynical detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. Burnout among health care professionals is widely understood as an organizational problem in health care that needs to be addressed and has been associated with increased patient safety incidents, including medical errors, reduced patient satisfaction, and poorer safety and quality ratings.