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A 78-year-old woman with macular degeneration presented for a pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) under monitored anesthesia care (MAC) with an eye block. At this particular hospital, eye cases under MAC are typically performed with an eye block by the surgeon after the anesthesiologist has administered some short-acting sedation, commonly with remifentanil. On this day, there was a shortage of premixed remifentanil and the resident – who was unfamiliar with the process of drug dilution – incorrectly diluted the remifentanil solution.

Ranum D, Beverly A, Shapiro FE, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:513-521.
This analysis of medical malpractice claims identified four leading causes of anesthesia-related claims involving ambulatory surgery centers – dental injuries, pain, nerve damage, and death. The authors discuss the role of preoperative risk assessment, use of routine dental and airway assessment, adequate treatment of perioperative pain, and improving communication between patients and providers.
Nasca BJ, Bilimoria KY, Yang AD. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:604-607.
Surgical safety has made advances while new difficulties continuously emerge. This article suggests that the specialties capitalize on artificial intelligence and professional wellness as two avenues to generate sustainable safety progress.

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.

Kelley-Quon LI, Kirkpatrick MG, Ricca RL, et al. JAMA Surg. 2021;156:76.
Opioid misuse is an urgent patient safety issue, including postsurgical opioid misuse among pediatric patients. Based on the systematic review, a multidisciplinary group of health care and opioid stewardship experts proposes evidence-based opioid prescribing guidelines for children who need surgery. Endorsed guideline statements highlight three primary themes for perioperative pain management in children: (1) health care professionals must recognize the risks of pediatric opioid misuse, (2) use non-opioid pain relief, and (3) pre- and post-operative education for patients and families regarding pain management and safe opioid use.

Ruskin KJ, ed. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol.  2020;33(6):774-822.

The complexity of care delivery requires complementary approaches to prevent mistakes. This special section shares clinical and organizational tactics to address anesthesiology safety issues. They include automation failures, the role of the obstetric anesthesiologist in maternal safety, and monitoring effectiveness. 

A 56-year-old female received a digital tourniquet around the base of her left big toe during an ablation and excision of a deformed in-grown toenail.

Barth RJ, Waljee JF. JAMA Surg. 2020;155:543-544.
This commentary discusses the harms of opioid overprescribing, particularly among opioid-naïve patients. The authors suggest that opioid dependence, abuse, or overdose in an opioid-naïve patient undergoing surgery should be considered a “never event” and discuss strategies for appropriate prescribing by surgeons.

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.
Fearon NJ, Benfante N, Assel M, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;46:410-416.
Opioid prescriptions are associated with harm among postoperative patients. This quality improvement project reduced and standardize opioid prescriptions upon discharge for opioid-naive patients undergoing oncologic surgery and evaluated the impact on subsequent opioid use and reported pain. Pre-standardization, the median opioid prescription at discharge was 20 pills (up to 140 milligrams morphine equivalent, or MME); post-standardization, prescriptions were set to 7-10 pills (24-75 MME) depending on the type of oncologic surgery.
Hart WM, Doerr P, Qian Y, et al. AMA J Ethics. 2020;22:E298-E304.
Communication has become a foci of improvement efforts across the spectrum of patient safety. This article discusses a surgical complication incident that illustrates the importance of transparency, disclosure and collaboration as elements of a successful approach to communication that can successfully manage the impact of an adverse incident.
Pradarelli JC, Yule S, Smink DS. JAMA Surg. 2020.
This article describes an online training module for surgeons to learn and assess nontechnical skills using the Nontechnical Skills for Surgeons (NOTSS) framework (eNOTSS). This platform could support nontechnical skills learning for a global audience. Next steps for platform development and implementation include creating capability for personalized feedback on nontechnical skills and garnering buy-in from health system leadership.
Buissonniere M. Brooklyn NY: Lifebox and Ariadne Labs; 2020.
Checklists are integrated into error reduction strategies and healthcare team communication efforts worldwide but implementation and impact of the tool varies widely. This report examines the use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and barriers to its uptake which include lack of effective staff introduction to the content, misperceptions about the time needed to use the tool and ineffective local contextualization of the content and process.
de Lima A, Osman BM, Shapiro FE. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2019;32.
Office-based anesthesia (OBA) is being performed more commonly internationally. This narrative literature review updates the evidence related to the safety of OBA and makes recommendations for safe practices including; medical directors to be responsible for evidence-based policies, OBA safety and patient checklists emergency procedures, physical setting requirements, pharmacological management, preoperative procedures, airway management and others. The authors identify that lack of consistent regulations and incomplete protocol standardization is problematic.
London, UK: Royal College of Surgeons of England; 2019.
Introducing innovations in practice involves taking calculated risks. To ensure patient safety, new techniques should be accompanied by training, oversight, and heightened awareness of the learning curve. This book provides a framework to guide the design and introduction of new surgical procedures into regular practice. It includes recommendations for auditing, cost assessment, and effectiveness review.
Ubaldi K. AORN J. 2019;109:435-442.
Safe medication use can be challenging in ambulatory surgery centers. This commentary reviews strategies to improve safety in this setting, including close collaboration with a pharmacist or pharmacy, assessing medication management, and providing clinician education.
Davis KK, Mahishi V, Singal R, et al. J Clin Med Res. 2019;11:7-14.
Ambulatory surgery centers are increasingly utilized to provide surgical care to patients. Quality improvement approaches utilized in the inpatient setting may need to be modified or adapted to be applicable in the ambulatory surgery environment. Researchers describe efforts to implement a surgical safety checklist and infection control techniques across 665 ambulatory surgery centers recruited for the study. They identified several barriers and conclude that the unique aspects of ambulatory surgery centers must be taken into account when implementing quality improvement initiatives.
Boston, MA: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2019.
Pain management has emerged as a complex safety concern. This report discusses four organizational prerequisites to improve pain management: prioritization, education, patient- and family-centeredness, and effective systems of care. Recommended steps for leadership to successfully implement safe pain management include obtaining commitment, convening a multidisciplinary working group, developing a plan, and executing the plan.