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ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. October 7, 2021;26(20):1-4.

Production pressure and low staff coverage can result in medication mistakes in community pharmacies. This article shares reported vaccine errors and factors contributing to mistaken administration of flu and COVID vaccines. Storage, staffing and collaboration strategies are shared to protect against vaccine mistakes.

Arvidsson L, Lindberg M, Skytt B, et al. J Clin Nurs. Epub 2021 Jul 6. 

 

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) affect thousands of hospitalized patients each year. This study evaluated working conditions that impact risk behaviors, such as missed hand hygiene, that may contribute to HAI. Main findings indicate that interruptions and working with colleagues were associated with increased risk behaviors.

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.

Norris B, Soncrant C, Mills PD, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:489-495.
Opioid misuse and overdose continues to be a patient safety concern. This study conducted root cause analyses of 82 adverse event reports involving opioid use at the Veterans Health Administration. The most frequent event type was medication administration error and the most frequent root cause was staff not following hospital policies or hospitals not having opioid-related policies. 
Sentinel Event Alert. 2018;59:1-9 (revised June 18, 2021).
The Joint Commission issues sentinel event alerts to raise awareness regarding risks in the health care setting. This alert highlights physical and verbal violence as a major problem in the workplace, particularly in areas such as the emergency department and inpatient psychiatric units. Other factors associated with violence in health care settings include stressful conditions, understaffing, and lack of organizational policies for recognizing and deescalating hostile behaviors. The alert suggests numerous strategies health care organizations can take to mitigate workplace violence, such as establishing systems across the organization that enable reporting of workplace violence and developing quality improvement initiatives to reduce such incidents. A past PSNet perspective explored how a team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center developed a process to improve workplace safety.
Nurses play a critical role in patient safety through their constant presence at the patient's bedside. However, staffing issues and suboptimal working conditions can impede a nurse’s ability to detect and prevent adverse events.
Hensgens RL, El Moumni M, IJpma FFA, et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2020;46:1367-1374.
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.
Trockel MT, Menon NK, Rowe SG, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3:e2028111.
Fatigue among health care workers can increase the risk of errors. This large cross-sectional study of attending and house staff physicians found that sleep-related impairment was associated with increased burnout, decreased professional fulfillment, and increased self-reported clinically significant medical error. Organizational policies should focus on reducing sleep-related impairment in order to reduce harm to patients and physicians.
Althoff FC, Wachtendorf LJ, Rostin P, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2020;30:678-688.
Prior research suggests that patients undergoing surgery at night are at greater risk for intraoperative adverse events. This retrospective cohort study including over 350,000 adult patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery found that night surgery was associated with an increased risk of postoperative mortality and morbidity. The effect was mediated by potentially preventable factors, including higher blood transfusion rates and more frequent provider handovers.

US Food and Drug Administration: November 3, 2020.

False-positive results contribute to patient and family discomfort and harm. This announcement shares information for clinicians to improve the reliability of the COVID-19 testing process and highlights government- and staff-level actions to support effective testing.
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.

National Alert Network for Serious Medication Errors. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and Institute for Safe Medication Practices. National Alert Network. September 9, 2020.

This announcement highlights container confusion as a contributing factor for accidental spinal injection of tranexamic acid. Storage, purchase, and preparation recommendations are shared to minimize errors with this medication.
Abrams EM, Shaker M, Oppenheimer J, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8:2474-2480.e1.
This article discusses the challenges COVID-19 poses for shared decision making (such as physical distancing and health service reallocation, communicating uncertainty, delivering allergy/immunology care) and opportunities to evolve incorporation of shared decision making into clinical practice during and after the pandemic.

MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration. June 2, 2020.

Neuromuscular blocking agents are high alert medications that can severely harm patients if used incorrectly. This announcement alerts clinicians to the absence of warning statements on two types of paralyzing agents, as well as to steps to minimize mistaken use.
A 52-year old women presented to the emergency department with a necrotizing soft tissue infection (necrotizing fasciitis) after undergoing cosmetic abdominoplasty (‘tummy tuck’) elsewhere. A lack of communication and disputes between the Emergency Medicine, Emergency General Surgery and Plastic Surgery teams about what service was responsible for the patient’s care led to delays in treatment. These delays allowed the infection to progress, ultimately requiring excision of a large area of skin and soft tissue.