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Brady KJS, Barlam TF, Trockel MT, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:287-297.
Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics to treat viral illnesses is an ongoing patient safety threat. This study examined the association between clinician depression, anxiety, and burnout and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in outpatient care. Depression and anxiety, but not burnout, were associated with increased adjusted odds of inappropriate prescribing for RTIs.
Ryser MD, Lange J, Inoue LYT, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2022;175:471-478.
Overdiagnosis of breast cancer can result in overtreatment and cause physical and emotional harm. Based on data from 35,986 women in a US-based breast cancer screening registry, this study estimates that15.4% of screen-detected cancers are overdiagnosed (i.e., detecting indolent preclinical cancer or detecting progressive preclinical cancer among women who would have died of unrelated causes before clinical diagnosis), which is higher than previous estimates. The authors suggest that data can improve shared decision-making between patients and physicians.
Clift K, Macklin-Mantia S, Barnhorst M, et al. J Prim Care Community Health. 2022;13:215013192110697.
Knowing a patient’s individual risk factors for developing cancer can assist patients and providers in deciding when to screen for cancers and can prevent both overtreatment and delays in care. This study compared patient-reported family history of cancer in the electronic health record (EHR) and family history collected using a focused questionnaire. Results showed inconsistencies between the two, especially for patients with more complicated family histories.

Deprescribing is an intervention used to reduce the risk of adverse drug events (ADEs) that can result from polypharmacy. It is the process of supervised medication discontinuation or dose reduction to reduce potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use.

Korenstein D, Harris RP, Elshaug AG, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2021;36:2105-2110.
Provider and patient underestimation of harms of tests and treatments may lead to over treatment. This article presents seven domains of harm of tests and treatment which warrant comprehensive research: (1) physical impairment, (2) psychological distress, (3) social disruption, (4) disruption in connection to healthcare, (5) labeling, (6) financial impact, and (7) treatment burden. Research is especially important in vulnerable patient populations.
Mirarchi FL, Cammarata C, Cooney TE, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:458-466.
Prior research found significant confusion among physicians in understanding Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) documents, which can lead to errors. This study found that emergency medical services (EMS) personnel did not exhibit adequate understanding of all POLST or living will documents either. The researchers propose that patient video messaging can increase clarity about treatment, and preserve patient safety and autonomy.
Sajid IM, Parkunan A, Frost K. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001287.
Inappropriate use or overuse of clinical tests such as MRIs can be harmful to patients. This cohort study, including 107 general practitioners across 29 practices, found that only 4.9% of musculoskeletal MRIs were clearly indicated and only 16.7% of results appeared to be correctly interpreted by clinicians, suggesting the potential for significant misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis.
Green AR, Aschmann H, Boyd CM, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e212633.
Effective communication between patient and provider is key to successful deprescribing.  Participants in this study were asked to rate potential phrases a clinician may use to explain why stopping or reducing a medication is important. The most preferred phrase involved an explanation of risk of side effects associated with the medications while the least preferred options focused on the effort involved in taking the medication and “this medication is unlikely to help you function better”. Understanding the patient’s priorities can help frame the conversation around deprescribing.
Holmqvist M, Thor J, Ros A, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21:557.
Polypharmacy in older adults puts them at risk for adverse drug events. In interviews with primary care clinicians, researchers found that working conditions and working in partnership with colleagues, patients, and family influenced medication evaluation. They also identified two main areas of action: working with a plan and collaborative problem-solving. 
Morgan DJ, Pineles L, Owczarzak J, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181:747-755.
Overdiagnosis is an emerging safety concern due to its potential to result in physical, financial, and emotional harm. Researchers surveyed 533 primary care practitioners (physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) and asked them to estimate the probability of disease for common conditions (pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, breast cancer screening, and urinary tract infection) and the association of positive and negative test results with disease probability. Findings indicate that significant overestimation of disease among all participating practitioners – likely due to overestimates of pretest probability – may contribute to overdiagnosis and overuse.
Hahn EE, Munoz-Plaza CE, Lee EA, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2021;36:3015-3022.
Older adults taking potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) are at increased risk of adverse events including falls. Patients and primary care providers described their knowledge and awareness of risk of falls related to PIMs, deprescribing experiences, and barriers and facilitators to deprescribing. Patients reported lack of understanding of the reason for deprescribing, and providers reported concerns over patient resistance, even among patients with falls. Clinician training strategies, patient education, and increased trust between providers and patients could increase deprescribing, thereby reducing risk of falls. 
Fudge N, Swinglehurst D. BMJ Open. 2021;11:e042504.
Polypharmacy – particularly in older adults – can increase the risk of adverse drug events. Based on an ethnographic case study of community pharmacies in England, the authors found that polypharmacy was a pervasive problem but rarely discussed as a safety concern and not actively challenged by pharmacy staff.

Boodman SG. Washington Post. January 23, 2021.

Misdiagnosis can perpetuate over a long period and delay a correct course of treatment. This news feature shares an example of depression misdiagnosis that masked the true problem of a neurological tumor manifesting in what was seen and treated as a psychological condition. 
Zhou J, Calip GS, Rowan S, et al. Pharmacotherapy. 2020;40:992-1001.
This study analyzed the association between potentially inappropriate prescribing involving opioids prescribed by dentists and emergency department visits and hospitalizations among older patients. Results indicated that a significant proportion of older patients prescribed opioids by their dentist have contraindications (such as psychotropic medication use) which places them at increased risk for 30-day hospitalizations.
Bloomfield HE, Greer N, Linsky AM, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2020;35:3323-3332.
Deprescribing is one strategy to reduce polypharmacy among older adults. This systematic review found that medication deprescribing interventions (particularly those involving comprehensive medication review) may provide small reductions in mortality and use of potentially inappropriate medications among community-dwelling older adults.

Saks MJ, Landsman S. Health Matrix: J Law-Med. 2020;30(1):25-84.

Defensive medicine behaviors seeking to avoid malpractice risk due to care omissions challenge patient safety and value narratives. This legal discussion examines factors driving defensive medicine and reveals complexities associated with the practice and reforms submitted to address them.    
Rieckert A, Reeves D, Altiner A, et al. BMJ. 2020;369:m1822.
This study evaluated the impact of an electronic decision support tool comprising a comprehensive drug review to support deprescribing and reduce polypharmacy in elderly adults. Results indicate that the tool did reduce the number of prescribed drugs but did not significantly reduce unplanned hospital admissions or death after 24 months.
Liew TM, Lee CS, Goh SKL, et al. Age Ageing. 2020.
Potentially inappropriate prescribing in older adults can lead to adverse health outcomes and worsened health-related quality of life. This meta-analysis estimated the prevalence of potentially inappropriate prescribing in older adults to be 3.3%, and estimated that potentially inappropriate prescribing explains 7.7 to 17.3% of adverse outcomes affecting older adults in primary care. Interventions to prevent potentially inappropriate prescribing should be prioritized as a key strategy to reduce medication-related harm along older adults in primary care settings.