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Townsend T, Cerdá M, Bohnert AS, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2021;40:1766-1775.
Misuse of prescription opioids represents a serious patient safety issue. Using commercial claims from 2014 - 2018, researchers examined the association between the 2016 CDC guidelines to reduce unsafe opioid prescribing and opioid dispensing for patients with four common chronic pain diagnoses. Findings indicate that the release of the 2016 guidelines was associated with reductions in the percentage of patients receiving opioids, average dose prescribed, percentage receiving high-dose prescriptions, number of days supplied, and the percentage of patients receiving concurrent opioid/benzodiazepine prescriptions. The authors observe that questions remain about how clinicians are tailoring opioid reductions using a patient-centered approach.
Burrus S, Hall M, Tooley E, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;148:e2020030346.
Based on analysis of four years of data submitted to the Child Health Patient Safety Organization (CHILDPSO), researchers sought to identify types of serious safety events and contributing factors. Three main groups of serious safety events were identified: patient care management, procedural errors, and product or device errors. Contributing factors included lack of situational awareness, process failures, and failure to communicate effectively.
Keister LA, Stecher C, Aronson B, et al. BMC Public Health. 2021;21:1518.
Constrained diagnostic situations in the emergency department (ED), such as crowding, can impact safe care. Based on multiple years of electronic health record data from one ED at a large U.S. hospital, researchers found that providers were significantly less likely to prescribe opioids during constrained diagnostic situations and less likely to prescribe opioids to high-risk patients or racial/ethnic minorities.
Pinheiro LC, Reshetnyak E, Safford MM, et al. Med Care. 2021;59:901-906.
Prior research has found that racial/ethnic minorities may be at higher risk for adverse patient safety outcomes. This study evaluated racial disparities in self-reported adverse events based on cross-sectional survey data collected as part of a national, prospective cohort evaluating stroke mortality. Findings show that Black participants were significantly more likely to report a preventable adverse event attributable to poor care coordination (e.g., drug-drug interaction, emergency department visitor, or hospitalization) compared to White participants.
Alshehri GH, Ashcroft DM, Nguyen J, et al. Drug Saf. 2021;44:877-888.
Adverse drug events (ADE) can occur in any healthcare setting. Using retrospective record review from three mental health hospitals, clinical pharmacists confirmed that ADEs were common, and that nearly one-fifth of those were considered preventable.
Galanter W, Eguale T, Gellad WF, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e2117038.
One element of conservative prescribing is minimizing the number of medications prescribed. This study compared the number of unique, newly prescribed medications (personal formularies) of primary care physicians across four health systems. Results indicated wide variability in the number of unique medications at the physician and institution levels. Further exploration of personal formularies and core drugs may illuminate opportunities for safer and more appropriate prescribing.
Oberlander T, Scholle SH, Marsteller JA, et al. J Healthc Qual. 2021;43:324-339.
The goal of the patient centered medical home (PCMH)  model is to reorganize primary care to provide team-based, coordinated, accessible health care. This study used a consensus process with input from a physician panel to examine ambulatory patient safety concerns (e.g., medication safety, diagnostic error, treatment delays, communication or coordination errors) in the context of the PCMH model and explore variability in the implementation of patient safety practices.
Shafiee Hanjani L, Hubbard RE, Freeman CR, et al. Intern Med J. 2021;51:520-532.
Cognitively impaired older adults living in residential aged care facilities (RACF) are at risk of adverse drug events related to potentially inappropriate polypharmacy. Based on telehealth visits with 720 RACF residents, 66% were receiving polypharmacy, with cognitively intact residents receiving significantly more medications than cognitively impaired residents. Overall, 82% of residents were receiving anti-cholinergic medications which should be avoided in this population. Future interventions and research should pay particular attention to the prescribing of these medications.
Mangory KY, Ali LY, Rø KI, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21:369.
Burnout may adversely affect patient safety and clinician wellness. This review of studies using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) found that only four of 11 studies found an association between clinician burnout and observed adverse patient care. The authors recommend further research into the association of burnout and patient safety using the MBI.
Farhat A, Al‐Hajje A, Csajka C, et al. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2021;46:877-886.
Several tools have been developed to reduce potentially inappropriate prescribing. This study explored the economic and clinical impacts of two tools, STOPP/START and FORTA (Fit fOR The Aged list). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using those tools demonstrated significant clinical and economic impact in geriatric and internal medicine. Due to the low number of RCT studies evaluating these tools, additional studies are warranted.
Zheng WY, Lichtner V, Van Dort BA, et al. Res Soc Admin Pharm. 2021;17:832-841.
This systematic review sought to determine the impact of automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs), barcode medication administration (BCMA), and closed-loop electronic medication management systems (EMMS) used by hospitals in reducing controlled substance medication errors in hospitals. Overall, only 4 studies (out of 16) focused directly on controlled medications. A variety of types of errors (e.g., log-in, data, entry, override) compromised patient safety. High-quality targeted research is urgently needed to evaluate the risks and benefits of medication-related technology.
Hodkinson A, Tyler N, Ashcroft DM, et al. BMC Med. 2020;18:313.
Medication errors represent a significant source of preventable harm. This large meta-analysis, including 81 studies, found that approximately 1 in 30 patients is exposed to preventable medication harm, and more than one-quarter of this harm is considered severe or life-threatening. Preventable medication harm occurred most frequently during medication prescribing and monitoring. The highest rates of preventable medication harm were seen in elderly patient care settings, intensive care, highly specialized or surgical care, and emergency medicine.
Keen J, Abdulwahid MA, King N, et al. BMJ Open. 2020;10:e036608.
Health information technology has the potential to improve patient safety in both inpatient and outpatient settings. This systematic review explored the effect of technology networks across health systems (e.g., linking patient records across different organizations) on care coordination and medication reconciliation for older adults living at home. The authors identified several barriers to use of such networks but did not identify robust evidence on their association with safety-related outcomes.
Contreras J, Baus C, Brandt C, et al. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2021;61:e94-e99.
Naloxone administration is used to mitigate the effects of opioid overdose. The FDA recommends health care professionals educate patients about naloxone when prescribing opioid medications. In this audit of community pharmacists, researchers found that naloxone counseling commonly often excluded concepts important to patient safety, such as assessment of opioid misuse or abuse, possible adverse effects, and naloxone storage.
Han SM, Greenfield G, Majeed A, et al. J Med Internet Res. 2020;22:e23482.
Social distancing precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased use of telehealth. The authors of this systematic review conclude that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether remote prescribing in primary care changes antibiotic prescribing practices. Future research should further assess remote prescribing to ensure there are no negative impacts on antimicrobial stewardship.  
Lai AY. J Am Board Fam Med. 2020;33:754-764.
This study used qualitative methods to compare how patients versus front clinicians, administrators and staff conceptualize patient safety in primary care. Findings indicate that work function-based conceptualizations of patient safety (e.g., good communication and providing appropriate, timely care) better reflect the experiences of healthcare personnel and patients rather than domain-based conceptualizations (e.g., diagnosis, care transitions, and medications).
Hirsh AT, Anastas TM, Miller MM, et al. Am Psychol. 2020;75:784-795.
Potentially inappropriate opioid prescribing increases risk of patient harm and misuse. This study used videos and written vignettes to explore how patient race and previous opioid misuse behaviors impact providers’ risk assessment for future prescription opioid-related problems. Findings indicate that black patients were perceived by both residents and fellows to be at greater risk for future adverse events and diversion regardless of previous misuse history, suggesting that racial minorities with chronic pain may be vulnerable to unintended consequences of public health efforts to reduce opioid prescribing.
Brown KW, Carlisle K, Raman SR, et al. Health Aff (Milwood). 2020;39:1737-1742.
Over the last decade, children have experienced a dramatic rise in hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays related to opioid use. Based on Medicaid claims in North Carolina, prescribers of opioids for children were most commonly physicians and dentists. More than 3% of children ages 1 to 17 years had at least one opioid prescription filled annually; 76.6 children per 100,000 experienced an opioid-related adverse event or other harm. Adolescents ages 15 to 17 years disproportionately experienced these harms compared to younger age groups. Black and urban children were less likely to fill opioid prescriptions or experience adverse events, but they were more likely to experience other opioid-related harm, such as abuse or dependence.   
Naseralallah LM, Hussain TA, Jaam M, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2020;42:979-994.
Pediatric patients are particularly vulnerable to medication errors. In this systematic review, the authors evaluated the evidence on the effectiveness of clinical pharmacist interventions on medication error rates in hospitalized pediatric patients. Results of a meta-analysis found that pharmacist involvement was associated with a significant reduction in the overall rate of medication errors in this population.
Berry D, Wakefield E, Street M, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2020;76:2235-2252.
Isolation for infection prevention and control is beneficial but may result in unintended consequences for patients (e.g., less attention, suboptimal documentation and communication, higher risk of preventable adverse events). This systematic review did not identify any evidence suggesting that adult patients in isolation precautions for infection control are more likely to experience clinical deterioration or hospital-acquired complications compared to non-insolated patients.