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Raghuram N, Alodan K, Bartels U, et al. Virchows Archiv. 2021;478(6):1179-1185.
Autopsies are an important tool for identifying diagnostic errors. This retrospective study of 821 pediatric cancer deaths found that 10% had a major diagnostic discrepancy between antemortem and postmortem diagnoses. These discrepancies primarily consisted of missed infections, missed cancer diagnoses, and organ complications.
Korenstein D, Harris RP, Elshaug AG, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2021;36(7):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.
Bryant J, Carey M, Sanson-Fisher R, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(5):e387-e392.
When an error or adverse event occurs, patients and families want to be informed. In this study of oncology patients, more than one quarter perceived an adverse event had occurred. While most were informed soon after the event occurred and given an explanation, fewer than half were given information on how to move forward with a complaint if they wished. Regular communication between patients and providers about actual or perceived adverse events may decrease the risk of it happening again.
Gillespie BM, Harbeck EL, Kang E, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(5):e448-e454.
Nontechnical skills such as teamwork and communication can influence surgical performance. This Australian hospital implemented a team training program for surgical teams focused on improving individual and shared situational awareness which led to improvements in nontechnical skills.
Chong LSH, Kerklaan J, Clarke S, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;Epub Jul 19.
Transgender and nonbinary individuals may delay or avoid seeking necessary healthcare due to fears of discrimination. This systematic review of qualitative studies of the perspectives of transgender youths identified six major themes regarding their experiences with accessing healthcare, including fear, vulnerability, and systemic barriers. The authors recommend several strategies to improve access to healthcare for transgender individuals.
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.
Adie K, Fois RA, McLachlan AJ, et al. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2021;Epub May 23.
Medication errors are a common cause of patient harm. This study analyzed medication incident (MI) reports from thirty community pharmacies in Australia. Most errors occurred during the prescribing stage and were the result of interrelated causes such as poor communication and not following procedures/guidelines. Further research into these causes could reduce medication errors in the community.

Leitch S, Dovey S, Cunningham W, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11(7):e048316.

In this retrospective study, researchers examined patient records to describe patient harm occurring in primary care settings in New Zealand. The majority of harms were minor; 4.5% of harms were considered severe. Nearly 82% of non-fatal harms were considered not preventable and generally arose from routine care.
Scott IA, Hubbard RE, Crock C, et al. Intern Med J. 2021;51(4):488-493.
Sound critical thinking skills can help clinicians avoid cognitive biases and diagnostic errors. This article describes three critical thinking skills essential to effective clinical care – clinical reasoning, evidence-informed decision-making, and systems thinking – and approaches to develop these skills during clinician training.
Zaidi AS, Peterson GM, Bereznicki LRE, et al. Ann Pharmacother. 2021;55(4):530-542.
Prior research has found that polypharmacy among elderly patients with dementia is associated with greater risk of functional decline. This meta-analysis of five studies concluded that exposure to potentially inappropriate medications (PIM) was not associated with either mortality or hospitalization for patients with cognitive impairment.
Le Cornu E, Murray S, Brown EJ, et al. J Med Radiat Sci. 2021;Epub May 31.
Use of health information technology (HIT) can improve care but also lead to unexpected patient harm. In this analysis of incidents and near misses in radiation oncology, a major change in the use of the electronic health record (EHR) led to an increase in reported incidents and near misses. Leaders and HIT professionals should be aware of potential issues and develop a plan to minimize risk prior to major departmental changed including EHR changes.
Tobiano G, Chaboyer W, Dornan G, et al. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2021;Epub May 5.
Medication safety, particularly among older adults who may have complex medication regimens, is an ongoing safety concern. This study explored medication safety behaviors among young-old (65-74 years), middle-old (75-84 years) and old-old (>85 years) adults. The authors found that older adults are willing to engage in medication safety behaviors, but that preferred behaviors (e.g., verbal behaviors, self-administering medication, reviewing medication charts) differed among the age groups.
Wu F, Dixon-Woods M, Aveling E-L, et al. Soc Sci Med. 2021;280:114050.
Reluctance of healthcare team members to speak up about concerns can hinder patient safety. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 156 participants (health system leadership, managers, healthcare providers, and staff) about policies, practice, and culture around voicing concerns related to quality and safety. Findings suggest that both formal and informal hierarchies can undermine the ability and desire of individuals to speak up, but that informal organization (such as personal relationships) can motivate and support speaking up behaviors.
Hada A, Coyer F. Nurs Health Sci. 2021;23(2):337-351.
Safe patient handover from one nursing shift to the next requires complete and accurate communication between nurses. This review aimed to identify which nursing handover interventions result in improved patient outcomes (i.e., patient falls, pressure injuries, medication administration errors). Interventions differed across the included studies, but results indicate that moving the handover to the bedside and using a structured approach, such as Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) improved patient outcomes.
Aldila F, Walpola RL. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;Epub Apr 4.
Older adults are at increased risk of medicine self-administration errors (MSEs) due to polypharmacy, cognitive decline, and decline in physical abilities. In this review, incorrect dosing was the most common MSE; the most common factor influencing the errors is complex medication regimens due to the need for multiple medications. Additional research is needed into how community pharmacists can assist older adults at risk of MSE.
McHugh MD, Aiken LH, Sloane DM, et al. The Lancet. 2021;397(10288):1905-1913.
While research shows that better nurse staffing ratios are associated with improved patient outcomes, policies setting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals are rarely implemented. In 2016, select Queensland (Australia) hospitals implemented minimum nurse staffing ratios. Compared to hospitals that did not implement minimum nurse staffing ratios, length of stay, mortality, and readmission rates were significantly lower in intervention hospitals, providing evidence, once again, that minimum staffing ratios can improve patient outcomes. 
Thomas J, Dahm MR, Li J, et al. Health Expect. 2021;24(2):222-233.
Missed or failure to follow up on test results threatens patient safety. This qualitative study used volunteers to explore consumer perspectives related to test result management. Participants identified several challenges that patients experience with test-results management, including systems-level factors related to the emergency department and patient-level factors impacting understanding of test results.
Manias E, Bucknall T, Woodward-Kron R, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(8):3925.
Interprofessional communication is critical to safe medication management during transitions of care. Researchers conducted this ethnographic study to explore inter- and intra-professional communications during older adults’ transitions of care. Communication was influenced by the transferring setting, receiving setting, and ‘real-time’ communication. Lack of, or poor, communication impacted medication safety; researchers recommend more proactive communication and involvement of the pharmacist.
Mcmullan RD, Urwin R, Gates PJ, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2021;33(2):mzab068.
Distractions in the operating room are common and can lead to errors. This systematic review including 27 studies found that distractions, interruptions, and disruptions in the operating room are associated with a range of negative outcomes. These include longer operative duration, impaired team performance, self-reported errors by colleagues, surgical errors, surgical site infections, and fewer patient safety checks.