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This primer describes stressors relevant to the healthcare response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of care deliverers and the significant personal toll the pandemic is taking on individuals who work in the healthcare system. This primer highlights foundational patient safety strategies – signage, workflow review and redesign, checklists and simulations – whose implementation is more important than ever for keeping patients and healthcare providers safe in the age of COVID-19.
Burnout among health care professionals is highly prevalent. Current work focuses on understanding burnout and clinician well-being as system-level concerns that can influence safety, quality, and organizational performance.
Infections after surgery are common and frequently lead to hospital readmission and other adverse consequences for patients. Recent programs, including several led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have demonstrated how hospitals can successfully prevent these infections.
This Primer provides an overview of the history and current status of the patient safety field and key definitions and concepts. It links to other Patient Safety Primers that discuss the concepts in more detail.
Computerized warnings and alarms are used to improve safety by alerting clinicians of potentially unsafe situations. However, this proliferation of alerts may have negative implications for patient safety as well.
Human factors engineering is the discipline that attempts to identify and address safety problems that arise due to the interaction between people, technology, and work environments.
Though a seemingly simple intervention, checklists have played a leading role in the most significant successes of the patient safety movement, including the near-elimination of central line–associated bloodstream infections in many intensive care units.