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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.
Furlan L, Francesco PD, Costantino G, et al. J Intern Med. 2022;291:397-407.
Overtreatment and overuse can have unanticipated consequences, ranging from patient anxiety while awaiting test results to medical complications. The authors identify several factors that can contribute to patient overtreatment (fear of uncertainty, cognitive bias, applying low-quality evidence, and overfocusing on diagnosis). Interventions to overcome these issues include educating clinicians that uncertainty is a part of medicine and shifting to a focus on patient-centered management rather than focusing on identifying a diagnosis.
Kukielka E, Jones R. Patient Safety. 2022;4:49-59.
Medication errors can occur in all clinical settings, but can have especially devastating results in emergency departments (EDs). Between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2020, 250 serious medication errors occurring in the ED were reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System. Errors were more likely to occur on weekends and between 12:00 pm and midnight; patients were more likely to be women. Potential strategies to reduce serious medication errors (e.g., inclusion of emergency medicine pharmacists in patient care) are discussed.
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.

Huynh I, Rajendran T. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001363.
Unintentional therapeutic duplication can lead to life-threatening complications. As part of a quality improvement project on a surgical ward, staff were educated about the risks of therapeutic duplication and strategies to decrease it. After one month of education and reminders, the rate of therapeutic duplication decreased by more than half.
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.
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.
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. 

Issue Brief. Washington DC: Pew Charitable Trust; March 2021.

Antibiotic overuse is a contributor to nosocomial infection. This report discusses problems associated with antibiotic prescribing during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Systemic problems arising from the situation include disparities associated with antibiotic administration and unneeded receipt of medications by some patients.

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. 
Fearon NJ, Benfante N, Assel M, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;46:410-416.
Opioid prescriptions are associated with harm among postoperative patients. This quality improvement project reduced and standardize opioid prescriptions upon discharge for opioid-naive patients undergoing oncologic surgery and evaluated the impact on subsequent opioid use and reported pain. Pre-standardization, the median opioid prescription at discharge was 20 pills (up to 140 milligrams morphine equivalent, or MME); post-standardization, prescriptions were set to 7-10 pills (24-75 MME) depending on the type of oncologic surgery.
Rogero-Blanco E, Lopez-Rodriguez JA, Sanz-Cuesta T, et al. JMIR Med Inform. 2020;8.
Older patients are vulnerable to adverse drug events due to comorbidities and polypharmacy. This cross-sectional study from Spain reviewed prescriptions for 593 older adults aged 65-75 years with multiple comorbidities and documented polypharmacy to estimate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate prescribing using the STOPP and Beers Criteria. Potentially inappropriate prescribing was detected in over half of patients. The most frequently detected inappropriate prescriptions were for prolonged use of benzodiazepines (36% of patients) and prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (45% of patients). Multiple risk factors associated with potentially inappropriate prescribing were identified, including polypharmacy and use of central nervous system drugs.
Money NM, Schroeder AR, Quinonez RA, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174:375-382.
Medical overuse is a well-recognized patient safety challenge. This review expands upon prior research highlighting the top 10 studies published in 2018 that may help reduce overuse in pediatrics. Highlighted articles describe both established practices that may warrant deimplementation (such as routine outpatient opioid prescribing) and emerging practices that merit greater inspection or discouragement from widespread adoption (such as post-discharge nurse-led home visits).
Huang C-H, Umegaki H, Watanabe Y, et al. PLOS ONE. 2019;14:e0211947.
Various tools for identifying potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) have been developed. This 5-year prospective cohort study of 196 elderly patients receiving home-based medical services in Japan compared the use of two tools for identifying PIMs, the American Geriatrics Society’s Beers Criteria and the relatively new Screening Tool for Older Person’s Appropriate Prescriptions for Japanese (STOPP-J), to determine the impact of PIMs on hospitalization and mortality rates. PIMs categorized by STOPP-J were associated with hospitalization and mortality, whereas Beers Criteria PIMs were associated with hospitalization only after excluding proton pump inhibitors.

Res Social Adm Pharm. 2019;15(6):780-810.

Appropriate deprescribing can reduce the risks associated with polypharmacy, overuse, and accidental overdose. Articles in this special section cover findings from a symposium discussing guidelines for safe discontinuation of medications and research needed to support further understanding of deprescribing practices.
Brownlee S; Garber J. Brookline, MA: Lown Institute; 2019.
Overprescribing is a common problem that contributes to patient harm. This report examines financial, clinical, and societal trends of medication overuse and inappropriate polypharmacy in older Americans. A culture of prescribing, deficits in information and knowledge, and fragmented care contribute to the problem. The report provides interventions to improve the safety of prescribing, including developing deprescribing guidelines, raising awareness among providers and patients about medication overload, and implementing team-based care models.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Paris, France: OECD Publishing; 2019. ISBN: 978926474260.
The overprescribing of prescription opioids heightens the likelihood of opioid dependence and harm. This report shares data from 25 countries to provide a baseline for the current crisis. The publication illustrates the complexity of the opioid epidemic and suggests that system-focused multisector strategies are required to address the problem.