Clabaugh M, Beal JL, Illingworth Plake KS. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2021;61:761-771.
Patient safety concerns in community pharmacies have been documented in the media. This study sought to examine the association of working conditions and patient safety. Results indicate that while all participants reported negative company climate and workflow, those in chain pharmacies reported significantly more fear of speaking up about patient safety issues than those in independent, big box, or grocery pharmacies.
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.
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.
Sinnott C, Georgiadis A, Park J, et al. Ann Fam Med. 2020;18:159-168.
This review synthesized research exploring how operational failures (e.g., distractions, situational constraints) in primary care affect the work of primary care physicians. The literature suggests that operational failures are common, and the gap between what physicians perceive that they should be doing and what they were doing (“work-as-imagined” vs, “work-as-done”) is largely attributed to operational failures over which the primary care physicians had limited control. The authors suggest that future research focus on which operational failures have the highest impact in primary care settings in order to prioritize areas for targeted improvement.
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.
Pharmacists are instrumental to safe medication use in the ambulatory setting. This news story discusses factors in retail pharmacy environment that degrade pharmacists’ ability to safely practice, which include production pressure, required multitasking, and distraction. Strategies highlighted to mitigate the problem that have been inconsistently applied include scheduled breaks and staff supervision limits.
Bowden A, Mullin S, Tak C, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2019;76:360-365.
Researchers examined employee perceptions of safety culture before and after implementation of a pharmacy services call center designed to reduce interruptions across nine community pharmacies. They found that pharmacies with the call centers reported a 9.3% overall improvement in patient safety after implementation.
Production pressure, fatigue, and distraction can diminish effective decision-making. This commentary offers insights from an ambulatory care physician regarding how the busy work environment contributes to shortcuts that can lead to burnout, errors, and patient harm.
A 2-month-old boy brought in for a well-child visit was ordered the appropriate vaccinations, which included a combination vaccine for DTaP, Hib, and IPV. After administering the shots to the patient, the nurse realized she had given the DTaP vaccination alone, instead of the combination vaccine. Thus, the infant had to receive two additional injections.
Abebe E, Stone JA, Lester CA, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:405-411.
Handoffs present a significant patient safety hazard across multiple health care settings. Interruptions and distractions, which can interfere with handoff communication, are prevalent in pharmacy environments. This cross-sectional survey of community pharmacies found that virtually none of the pharmacists had received training in how to hand off information. A significant proportion of responses indicated that pharmacy information technology systems do not support handoff communication. Respondents reported that handoffs are frequently inadequate or inaccurate. The authors conclude that interventions are needed to enhance the quality of handoff communication in community pharmacy settings to prevent dispensing errors.
Zheng K, Ciemins EL, Lanham HJ, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; July 2015. AHRQ Publication No. 15-0058-EF.
Ineffective implementation of health information technology (IT) can result in workarounds and other workflow changes that disrupt care delivery. This report examines how health IT implementation can affect clinician and staff workload in the ambulatory care environment, including increase interruptions and multitasking, and recommends workload considerations to enable staff to adapt to changes in practice.
Harvey J, Avery AJ, Ashcroft D, et al. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2015;11:216-27.
This qualitative study characterized safety hazards in medication dispensing in community pharmacies. The authors conclude that the major sources of risk pertained to interruptions and distractions, which were often exacerbated by production pressures.
Prakash V, Koczmara C, Savage P, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2014;23:884-92.
This study used high-fidelity simulation to evaluate the impact of several interventions on preventing medication administration errors by chemotherapy nurses. Interventions with a basis in human factors engineering principles appeared to be highly effective at reducing errors related to interruptions.
Drawn on a Thursday, basic labs for a 10-year-old girl came back over the weekend showing a high glucose level, but neither the covering physician nor the primary pediatrician saw the results until the patient's mother called on Monday. Upon return to the clinic for follow-up, the child's glucose level was dangerously high and urinalysis showed early signs of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Trbovich P, Prakash V, Stewart J, et al. J Nurs Adm. 2010;40:211-8.
This direct observation study found that nurses were interrupted nearly one quarter of the time while administering chemotherapy. Prior studies have linked interruptions to an increased rate of medication administration errors.
Rivera-Rodriguez AJ, Karsh B-T. Qual Saf Health Care. 2010;19:304-312.
The majority of individual errors are due to failure to perform automatic or reflexive actions. A major risk factor for these "slips" is being interrupted or distracted while performing a task. This review examined the literature on the incidence, risk factors, and effects of interruptions in several clinical settings, ranging from outpatient clinics to the operating room. Although distractions are common and may be associated with increased risk for error, particularly if they occur during medication administration or signout, the authors point out that many interruptions may be necessary to communicate urgent clinical information. They argue for complexity theory–based research to delineate the harmful and beneficial aspects of interruptions, rather than for interventions that seek to simply eliminate interruptions. Checklists have been widely adopted as a means of preventing errors of omission, which may be precipitated by interruptions.
St Louis, Missouri; Facilities Guidelines Institute; 2018.
These updated guidelines include design changes, such as the adoption of private rooms to reduce medical error, interruptions, and hospital-acquired infections. The 2018 edition was developed as a 3-volume set covering hospitals, outpatient facilities, and residential health, care, and support facilities. Each provides information on design elements that enhance safety. The material also includes risk assessments to identify space concerns that could lead to unsafe conditions.
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