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The PSNet Collection: All Content

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.

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 48 Results
Berdot S, Vilfaillot A, Bézie Y, et al. BMC Nurs. 2021;20:153.
Interruptions have been identified as a common source of medication errors. In this study of the effectiveness of a “do not interrupt” vest worn by nurses from medication preparation to administration, neither medication administration error or interruption rates improved.
Boquet A, Cohen T, Diljohn F, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17: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).
Mahadevan K, Cowan E, Kalsi N, et al. Open Heart. 2020;7.
Distractions and interruptions are common during delivery of health care. In this evaluation of 194 cardiac catheterization procedures at a single hospital, the authors found that fewer than half of all procedures were completed without interruption or distraction. The authors propose several actions such as the use of a ‘sterile cockpit’ to reduce distractions and improve patient safety.
Joseph A, Khoshkenar A, Taaffe KM, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:276-283.
This direct observation study found that minor disruptions in usual workflow can combine to lead to an adverse event. More than half of the observed disruptions were related to the physical layout of the operating room, suggesting that physical design of operating rooms may affect surgical safety.
Keers RN, Plácido M, Bennett K, et al. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0206233.
This interview study used a human factors method, the critical incident technique, to identify underlying factors in medication administration errors in a mental health inpatient facility. The team identified multiple interconnected vulnerabilities, including inadequate staffing, interruptions, and communication challenges. The findings underscore the persistence of widely documented medication safety administration concerns.
Patterson ES. Hum Factors. 2018;60:281-292.
Poor design of health information technology can lead to miscommunication, burnout, and inappropriate documentation. This review of the literature identified three practice deviations associated with health IT, including workflow disruption, inappropriate use of text fields, and use of handwritten paper or whiteboard notes instead of health IT. The author recommends improvements focused on electronic health record display to enhance communication.
Westbrook JI, Li L, Hooper TD, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:734-742.
This randomized controlled trial had nurses on four hospital wards wear "do not interrupt" vests during medication administration. The rate of interruptions the intervention nurses experienced was compared to the rate in four control wards that did not have nurses wear vests. Although the intervention reduced non–medication-related interruptions, nurses reported that the vests were time consuming and uncomfortable; less than half would support continuing the intervention. This study demonstrates the need to design and test sustainable interventions to improve patient safety.
Allan SH, Doyle PA, Sapirstein A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2017;43:62-70.
Reducing the number of alarms can help alleviate alarm fatigue and the associated patient safety hazards. In this study, researchers successfully implemented a number of interventions which led to a 61% decrease in average alarms per monitored bed in a cardiovascular surgical intensive care unit and a reduction in cardiorespiratory events.
Schwappach DLB, Pfeiffer Y, Taxis K. BMJ Open. 2016;6.
Chemotherapy medications can cause severe patient harm if incorrectly dosed or administered. This cross-sectional survey of oncology nurses revealed that most chemotherapy double-checking is conducted jointly rather than independently. Of note, many nurses reported being interrupted to engage in a double-check.
Bravo K, Cochran G, Barrett R. J Nurs Care Qual. 2016;31:335-41.
Medication administration errors are common and are often associated with interruptions. This study reviews data from a recent study on medication safety in critical access hospitals and recommends organizational strategies to improve the safety of medication administration.
Werner NE, Holden RJ. Appl Ergon. 2015;51:244-54.
Interruptions are a known safety hazard that occur frequently. This systematic review proposes that interruptions be considered a process with various potential consequences for multiple actors rather than single events and suggests a human factors approach to addressing interruptions.

Albarran J, Scholes J, eds. Nurs Crit Care. 2015;20(4):167-220.

Nurses have a key role in patient safety and advocacy in critical care settings. Articles in this special issue explore the impact of interruptions on nursing care, ward rounds as an opportunity for checklist use, and the importance of integrating safety concepts into nursing education.
Anderson P, Townsend T. Am Nurse Today. May 2015;10:18-23.
High-alert medications have the potential to cause serious patient harm. This article focuses on four primary types of high-alert medications—anticoagulants, sedatives, insulins, and opioids—that can have serious adverse effects and recommends strategies to reduce risks, including conducting independent double-checks and decreasing interruptions.
Dandoy CE, Davies SM, Flesch L, et al. Pediatrics. 2014;134:e1686-e1694.
Improving alarm systems to mitigate the risks of alarm fatigue was added as a National Patient Safety Goal in the 2014 update. This study introduced a multifaceted cardiac monitor care process on a pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. The program included standardized steps for ordering and reassessing cardiac monitor parameters. In addition, physicians and nurses used a log to document the need for ongoing cardiac monitoring and created reliable systems for discontinuation of monitoring when it was no longer needed. Patients and families were actively engaged in these activities, helping sustain the program. As compliance with the process improved from 38% to 95%, the number of alarms per patient-day plummeted from 180 to 40. The hope is that reducing unnecessary alerts will address clinician desensitization to clinically important alarms.
Verweij L, Smeulers M, Maaskant JM, et al. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2014;46:340-8.
This study used direct observation and interviews to evaluate the effectiveness of tabards, do-not-disturb signs worn by registered nurses dispensing medications in inpatient settings, in preventing disruptions. The authors found a decrease in interruptions and medication errors, suggesting that tabards may augment safety despite controversy regarding their use.
Feil M. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. June 2014;11:45-52.
Operating rooms are complex environments with particular risks regarding interruptions and distractions. This article draws from data reported to the Patient Safety Authority to explore how distractions affect surgeons and other team members. The author reviews strategies to limit distractions, including applying sterile cockpit principles, performing preoperative briefings, and utilizing checklists.
Eggertson L. The Canadian nurse. 2014;110:25-9.
Human factors engineering is being increasingly promoted as an approach that generates lasting safety improvements. This commentary describes how applying human factors principles can identify ways to reduce risks in health care settings, including issues related to interruptions and infusion pumps.
Liu W, Manias E, Gerdtz M. Health Place. 2014;26:188-198.
At an Australian hospital, frequent interruptions, limited space, and equipment problems were among many aspects of the physical environment that hinder the medication administration process. An AHRQ WebM&M perspective discusses how restructuring the physical work environment can be a key component of safety efforts.
Raban MZ, Westbrook JI. BMJ Qual Saf. 2014;23:414-21.
Interruptions are inevitable in the busy clinical environment and may contribute to preventable harm, particularly if they occur during medication administration. This systematic review attempted to synthesize research regarding the effectiveness of interventions that have been tested to limit interruptions during medication administration. These efforts included sterile cockpit approaches derived from the aviation industry. Although some interventions did reduce interruption rates, medication error rates were largely unaffected and the literature has significant methodological flaws. The authors caution that hospitals should not attempt to simply limit interruptions, because there is no clear evidence that doing so will prevent medication errors and some interruptions are necessary for patient care.