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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.
Ali A, Miller MR, Cameron S, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2022;38:207-212.
Interhospital transfer of critical care patients presents patient safety risks. This retrospective study compared adverse event rates between pediatric patient transport both with, and without, parent or family presence. Adverse event rates were not significantly impacted by parental presence.
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.
Berdot S, Vilfaillot A, Bézie Y, et al. BMC Nurs. 2021;20:153.
Interruptions have been identified as a common source of medication errors. In this study of the effectiveness of a “do not interrupt” vest worn by nurses from medication preparation to administration, neither medication administration error or interruption rates improved.
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.
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).
Small K, Sidebotham M, Gamble J, et al. Midwifery. 2021;102:103074.
Health information technologies intended to reduce patient harm may have unintended consequences (UC). Midwives describe the unintended consequences of central fetal monitoring technology. These consequences included potential loss of patient trust in the midwife, changes in clinical practice, and increased documentation during labor. The authors recommend reevaluation of use of central fetal monitoring due to potential UC without demonstrating improvements in maternal safety.
Bubric KA, Biesbroek SL, Laberge JC, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:556-562.
Unintentionally retained foreign objects (RFO) following surgery is a never event. In this study, researchers observed 36 surgical procedures to quantify and describe interruptions and distractions present during surgical counting. Interruptions (e.g., the surgeon or another nurse talking to the scrub nurse) and distractions (e.g., music, background noise) were common. Several suggestions to minimize interruptions and distractions during surgical counts are made.

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.
Udeh C, Canfield C, Briskin I, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:1791-1795.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems have the potential to reduce error, but their poor CPOE design, implementation and use can contribute to patient safety risks. In this study, researchers found that restricting the number of concurrently open electronic health records did not significantly reduce wrong patient selection errors in their hospital’s CPOE system.
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.
Campbell AA, Harlan T, Campbell M, et al. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2021;53:333-342.
Using electronic health records, call light systems, and bar-code medication administration systems, this study examined the impact of six specific workload variables on nurses’ medication administration errors. At least one of the six variables was significantly associated with the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a near miss medication error in the majority of nurses. Because the specific variable(s) differed for each individual nurse, interventions addressing medication administration errors should be tailored to individual nurse risk factors.
Fiorinelli M, Di Mario S, Surace A, et al. Appl Nurs Res. 2021;58:151405.
Smartphones have become ubiquitous among healthcare professionals for both personal and patient care purposes. This review explored positive (improved performance; access to information about medications) and negative (distraction from core clinical tasks) consequences of nurses’ smartphone use during work. Healthcare workplaces should implement policies to restrict when and where smartphones can be used for personal purposes.
Mahadevan K, Cowan E, Kalsi N, et al. Open Heart. 2020;7.
Distractions and interruptions are common during delivery of health care. In this evaluation of 194 cardiac catheterization procedures at a single hospital, the authors found that fewer than half of all procedures were completed without interruption or distraction. The authors propose several actions such as the use of a ‘sterile cockpit’ to reduce distractions and improve patient safety.
Schroers G, Ross JG, Moriarty H. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:38-53.
Medication errors are a common source of patient harm. This systematic review synthesizing qualitative evidence concluded that nurses’ perceived causes of medication administration errors are multifactorial, interconnected, and stem from systems issues. Perceived causes included lack of medication knowledge, fatigue, complacency, heavy workloads, and interruptions.
Demaria J, Valent F, Danielis M, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2021;36:202-209.
Little empirical evidence exists assessing the association of different nursing handoff styles with patient outcomes. This retrospective study examined the incidence of falls during nursing handovers performed in designated rooms away from patients (to ensure confidentiality and prevent interruptions and distractions). No differences in the incidence of falls or fall severity during handovers performed away from patients versus non-handover times were identified.
Freeling M, Rainbow JG, Chamberlain D. Int J Nurs Stud. 2020;109:103659.
This literature analysis assessed the evidence on the impact presenteeism in the nursing workforce and found that presenteeism is associated with risk to nurse well-being and patient safety, but that additional research exploring the relationship between presenteeism, job satisfaction, and quality of care is needed.
A 55-year old man was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia requiring intravenous antibiotics. After three intravenous lines infiltrated, the attending physician on call gave a verbal order to have a percutaneous intravenous central venous catheter placed by interventional radiology the next morning. However, the nurse on duty incorrectly entered an order for a tunneled dialysis catheter, and the radiologist then inserted the wrong type of catheter. The commentary explores safety issues with verbal orders and interventional radiology procedures.
Johnson AH, Benham‐Hutchins M. AORN J. 2020;111.
Unprofessional behaviors negatively impact teams and can undermine patient safety. This systematic review examined the influence of bullying on nursing errors across multiple healthcare settings. Fourteen articles were included in the review and four themes were identified: the influence of work environment; individual-level connections between bullying and errors; barriers to teamwork, and; communication impairment. While nurses perceive that bullying influences errors and patient outcomes, the mechanisms are unclear and more research is necessary to determined how bullying impacts nursing practice error.
Multiple patients were admitted to a large tertiary hospital within a 4-week period and experienced patient identification errors. These cases highlight important systems issues contributing to this problem and the consequences of incorrect patient identification.