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Galatzan BJ, Carrington JM. Res Nurs Health. 2021;44:833-843.
During handoffs, nurses are exposed to a variety of interruptions and distractions which may lead to cognitive overload. Using natural language processing, researchers analyzed ten audio-recorded change of shift handoffs to estimate the cognitive load experienced by nurses. Nurses’ use of concise language has the potential to decrease cognitive overload and improve patient outcomes.

Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 16, 2021.

The release of the Workplace Safety supplemental items for use in conjunction with the AHRQ Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture™ helps hospitals assess how their organizational culture supports workplace safety for providers and staff. This webinar provided background on the importance of workplace safety and introduce the Workplace Safety supplemental items.
Burden AR, Potestio C, Pukenas E. Adv Anesth. 2021;39:133-148.
Handoffs occur several times during a perioperative encounter, increasing the risk of communication errors. Structured handoffs, such as situation-background-assessment-recommendation (SBAR) and checklists, have been shown to improve communication between providers during anesthesia care. The authors discuss how these tools and other processes can improve shared understanding of effective handoffs.
Urban D, Burian BK, Patel K, et al. Ann Surg. 2021;2:e075.
The WHO surgical safety checklist has been implemented in healthcare systems around the world. Survey responses from 2,032 surgical team members from high-income countries suggest that most respondents perceive the checklist as enhancing patient safety, but that not all team members are engaging with its use or feel confident in their role in the checklist process.
Morse KE, Chadwick WA, Paul W, et al. Pediatr Qual Saf. 2021;6:e436.
The goal of medication reconciliation is to identify medication inconsistencies at hospital discharge. This study identified six common medication reconciliation errors at discharge – duplication, missing route, missing dose, missing frequency, unlisted medication, and “see instructions” errors. The authors evaluated the prevalence of these errors at two pediatric hospitals and found that duplication and “see instructions” errors were most common. 

Uhl S, Siddique SM, McKeever L, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; October 2021.  AHRQ Publication No. 21(22)-EHC035.

Patient malnutrition is an underrecognized threat to patient safety. This report provides a comprehensive evidence analysis on the patient malnutrition literature, the relationship of in-hospital malnutrition to patient harm across patient groups and tactics for measurement of the problem to design and assess the impact of interventions.
Hofer IS, Cheng D, Grogan T. Anesth Analg. 2021;133:698-706.
Anesthesia-related adverse events have been associated with increased length of stay, morbidity and mortality. This study investigated the effect of missed documentation of select comorbidities on postoperative length of stay and mortality. Results indicate that missed documentation of one of the comorbid conditions increased risk of length of stay, and mortality was increased with missed atrial fibrillation.
Trost SL, Beauregard JL, Smoots AN, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2021;40:1551-1559.
Missed diagnosis of mental health conditions can lead to serious adverse outcomes. Researchers evaluated data from 2008 to 2017 from 14 state Maternal Mortality Review Committees and found that 11% of pregnancy-related deaths were due to mental health conditions. A substantial proportion of people with a pregnancy-related mental health cause of death had a history of depression or past/current substance use. Researchers conclude that addressing gaps maternal mental health care is essential to improving maternal safety.
James L, Elkins-Brown N, Wilson M, et al. Int J Nurs Stud. 2021;123:104041.
Many hospitals have adopted a 12-hour work shift for nurses and some studies have shown a resulting increase in burnout and decrease in patient safety. In this study, researchers assessed simulated nursing performance, cognition, and sleepiness in day nurses and night nurses who worked three consecutive 12-hour shifts. Overall results indicated nurses on both shifts mostly maintain their abilities on the simulated nursing performance assessment despite reporting increased sleepiness and fatigue. However there was more individual variation in cognition and some domains of performance.
Lafferty M, Harrod M, Krein SL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:28(12).
Use of one-way communication technologies, such as pagers, in hospitals have led to workarounds to improve communication. Through observation, shadowing, interviews, and focus groups with nurses and physicians, this study describes antecedents, types, and effects of workarounds and their potential impact on patient safety.
Zaheer S, Ginsburg LR, Wong HJ, et al. BMC Nurs. 2021;20:134.
A culture of safety is essential to reducing medical errors and improving patient safety. In this mixed-methods study, researchers found that acute care nurses’ perceptions of senior leadership, teamwork, and turnover intention were associated with perceived patient safety.
Taylor E, Hignett S. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18:7780.
Informed environmental features, such as the built environment, can improve safety outcomes. The authors propose a theoretic model and matrix (DEEP SCOPE; DEsigning with Ergonomic Principles – Safety as Complexity of the Organization, People, and Environment) intended to synthesize design interventions into a systems-based model using the principles of human factors and ergonomics.
Volkar JK, Phrampus P, English D, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e689-e693.
The goal of peer review is to provide clinicians with the opportunity to learn from errors. A multidisciplinary panel at one academic medical center established a new approach for physician peer review which incorporated a protected electronic portal for communication and engagement and a Just Culture peer review algorithm to identify opportunities for system improvements. The new approach decreased the average time necessary for full case review and increased provider engagement.
Winters BD, Slota JM, Bilimoria KY. JAMA. 2021;326:1207-1208.
Alarm fatigue is a pervasive contributor to distractions and error. This discussion examines how, while minimizing nuisance alarms is important, those efforts need to be accompanied by safety culture enhancements to realize lasting progress toward alarm reduction.
Grabinski ZG, Babineau J, Jamal N, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:731-738.
Incident reporting and analysis can lead to improvements in patient safety. This study analyzed incident reports regarding unsafe conditions (UC) in one academic women and children’s hospital. The majority of UCs were equipment and medication issues, and most had one or more contributing factors.
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).
Combs CA, Einerson BD, Toner LE. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021;225:b43-b49.
Maternal and newborn safety is challenged during cesarean delivery due to the complexities of the practice. This guideline recommends specific checklist elements to direct coordination and communication between the two teams engaged in cesarean deliveries. The guideline provides a sample checklist and steps for its implementation.
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.