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Gupta A, Jain S, Croft C. JAMA. 2019;321:504-505.
The authors present a case in which an unnecessary procedure was incorrectly performed on a patient who had opted to pursue hospice care. They highlight factors contributing to the error including those related to use of the electronic health record.
Hospitalized in the ICU after cardiac arrest and loss of cardiac function for 15 minutes, an older man experienced worsening neurological status. After extensive discussions about goals of care, the family agreed to a DNR order. Over the next week, his condition declined, and the family decided to transition to comfort measures. Orders were written but shortly thereafter, the family spoke with the ICU resident and reversed their decision. The resident canceled the terminal extubation orders without communicating the order change to other team members.
Admitted to the hospital for treatment of a hip fracture, an elderly woman with end-stage dementia was placed on the hospice service for comfort care. The physician ordered a morphine drip for better pain control. The nurse placed the normal saline, but not the morphine drip, on a pump. Due to the mistaken setup, the morphine flowed into the patient at uncontrolled rate.
Dietz I, Plog A, Jox RJ, et al. J Palliat Med. 2014;17:331-7.
This survey of palliative care workers in Germany sought to identify common medical errors in this setting. The majority of errors were related to communication, system failures, and medication administration, including opioid overdose.
Following a lengthy hospitalization, an elderly woman was admitted to a skilled nursing facility for further care, where staff expressed concern about the complexity of the patient's illness. A few days later, the patient developed a fever and shortness of breath, prompting readmission to the acute hospital.
Following hernia repair surgery, an elderly woman is incidentally found to have a mass in her neck. Expecting the worst, the treating physician recommends palliative care and withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, before biopsy results are in.