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Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions, Smithsonian Channel: May 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the impact of racial disparities and inequities on patient safety for patients of color. This film shares stories of families whose care was unsafe. The cases discussed highlight how missed and dismissed COVID symptoms and inattention to patient and family concerns due to bias reduces patient safety.
Lim L, Zimring CM, DuBose JR, et al. HERD. 2022;Epub Apr 5.
Social distancing policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic challenged healthcare system leaders and providers to balance infection prevention strategies and providing collaborative, team-based patient care. In this article, four primary care clinics made changes to the clinic design, operational protocols, and usage of spaces. Negative impacts of these changes, such as fewer opportunities for collaboration, communication, and coordination, were observed.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2022.

The COVID-19 crisis affected most health care processes, including diagnosis. This report recaps a session examining impacts of the pandemic on diagnostic approaches, inequities, and innovations that may inform future diagnostic improvement efforts.
Gilbert GL, Kerridge I. BMC Health Serv Res. 2022;22:504.
Hospital transmission of COVID-19 has necessitated review of organization infection prevention and control (IPC) policies and practices. This study, conducted before the pandemic, compared IPC attitudes and practices of nurses and physicians, and how these differences affect interpersonal relationships. Both professions described unflattering and stereotypical behaviors of the other (i.e., doctors are unaware or disdainful of IPC; “bossy” nurses).  Many IPC policies implemented during the pandemic, such as encouraging all healthcare workers to speak up about infection prevention breaches, were accepted by both professions, and the authors recommend seizing on this interprofessional unity to continue adherence to all IPC policies.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and Lower Manhattan Hospital faced multiple challenges. During the first COVID-19 surge, the hospital staff experienced a relatively high patient census, including the doubling of use of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, as well as high patient acuity, scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), uncertainty about the nature of the virus, and patient and family communication challenges due to patients requiring isolation.1 Because of these challenges and because the protocol for working with patients with COVID-19 was evolving, there was a need for clear and frequent communication amongst providers and with patients and their friends and family.

As described by the innovation team, having enough staff to meet the patient care needs at the time was a major concern that was exacerbated by several providers’ need to work at home. Several hospitalists stayed offsite due to pregnancy, comorbidities, quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, or recovery from illness. However, these staff were available to work virtually. Non-hospitalist physicians wanted to help but needed training and support.

The innovation team, led by experienced hospitalists, attempted to meet the demand for patient care while accommodating the need for some staff to work virtually. To meet the need, the team decided to try a new approach to staffing. They trained 15 experienced hospitalists to work virtually to support the onsite clinicians. The virtual hospitalists were able to address patient and family communication, write clinical notes, and train redeployed physicians (physicians that work outside of their specialties in the time of a disaster). Covering these duties freed up the onsite team to see more patients and focus on bedside clinical management of acutely ill patients. The innovation included planned redundancies to improve safety, according to the innovation team. To account for the fact that they were not onsite and treating patients in person, the virtual hospitalists were compensated at two-thirds their normal rate.

In their published article, the team report anecdotal evidence that the innovation helped address challenges with patient volume, centered patient safety, and reduced staff burnout. If given time to prepare, in the future the safety impact of such an initiative should be assessed through data collection and analysis of patient safety measures.

According to the innovation team, smooth implementation of this initiative required teamwork, adequate staffing resources, technological resources, leadership buy-in and support, team member flexibility, and a clear explanation to onsite team members of why some staff were working virtually.

Alboksmaty A, Beaney T, Elkin S, et al. The Lancet Digital Health. 2022;4:e279-e289.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a rapid transition of healthcare from in-person to remote and virtual care. This review assessed the safety and effectiveness of pulse oximetry in remote patient monitoring (RPM) of patients at home with COVID-19. Results show RPM was safe for patients in identifying risk of deterioration. However, it was not evident whether remote pulse oximetry was more effective than other virtual methods, such as virtual visits, monitoring consultations, or online or paper diaries.
Tham N, Fazio T, Johnson D, et al. World J Surg. 2022;46:1249-1258.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in infection control and prevention measures to limit nosocomial spread. This retrospective cohort study found that escalations in infection prevention and control practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect the incidence of other hospital-acquired infections among surgical patients at one Australian hospital. The authors posit that this may be due to high compliance with existing infection prevention and control practices pre-pandemic.

ECRI. Plymouth Meeting, PA. March 2022.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated patient safety concerns. ECRI presents the top ten patient concerns for 2022, including staffing challenges, human factors in telehealth, and supply chain disruptions.

Stein L, Fraser J, Penzenstadler N et al. USA Today. March 10, 2022.

Nursing home residents, staff, and care processes were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. This collection of resources examines data and documentation involving one nursing home chain to reveal systemic problems that contributed to failure. It shares family stories that illustrate how COVID affected care in long-term care environments.
Mahomedradja RF, van den Beukel TO, van den Bos M, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2022;22:35.
The potential for medication errors may increase due to redeployment and reorganization of hospital resources during COVID-19 surges. In this study of patients hospitalized during the first wave of the pandemic, over 90% had at least one prescribing error three months after hospitalization. Intensive care unit admission and a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma were risk factors for prescribing errors. Acknowledging and understanding these risk factors allows hospital leadership to target interventions for this population.

Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationMarch 2, 2022.

The impact of nursing home inspections to ensure the quality and safety of the service environment is lacking. Weaknesses in the process became more explicit as poor long-term care infection control was determined to be a contributor to the early spread of COVID amongst nursing home residents. This announcement outlines a targeted inspection initiative to assess whether organizations previously sited have made progress toward improving workforce safety.
Wieringa S, Neves AL, Rushforth A, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Mar 8.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the use of telehealth, including remote primary care triage and assessment. This qualitative study explored patients’ and clinicians’ experiences managing suspected COVID-19 during remote triage and assessment. Findings highlight the need to strengthen organizational resilience, develop and implement triage decision support tools, and address vulnerable and unsupported groups (e.g., the elderly, vulnerable and homebound patients).
Mullur J, Chen Y-C, Wickner PG, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:e431-e438.
COVID-19 restrictions and patient safety concerns have greatly expanded the use of telehealth and virtual visits. Through patient satisfaction surveys and patient complaints, this US hospital evaluated the quality and safety of virtual visits in March and April of 2020. Five patient complaints were submitted during this timeframe and overall patient satisfaction remained high. Safety and quality risks were identified (e.g., diagnostic error) and best practices were established.

Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization and International Labour Organization; 2022. ISBN 9789240040779.

Workforce well-being emerged as a key component of patient safety during the COVID-19 crisis. This report supplies international perspectives for informing the establishment of national regulations and organization-based programs to strengthen efforts aiming to develop health industry workforce health and safety strategies.
Etheridge JC, Moyal-Smith R, Sonnay Y, et al. Int J Surg. 2022;98:106210.
Non-technical skills such as communication, teamwork, decision-making, and situational awareness are responsible for a significant proportion of surgical errors. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the stress in the operating room, associated with increased risk of exposure and shortage of resources. This study compared pre- and post-COVID direct observations during live operations and found that non-technical skills were equivalent; there was a small, but statistically significant, improvement in teamwork and cooperation skills.

Levy R, Vestal AJ. Politico. February 19, 2022.

Transmission of COVID-19 in the health care setting continues to be a concern. This article discusses an analysis of US government statistics tracking hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections and reasons that control efforts may be lagging, which include visitor masking choices and health care worker return to work post-COVID-19 behaviors.
Residents living in nursing homes or residential care facilities use common dining and activity spaces and may share rooms, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19 infection. This document describes key patient safety challenges facing older adults living in these settings, who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus, and identifies federal guidelines and resources related to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation in long-term care. As of April 13, 2020, the Associated
Labrague LJ, Santos JAA, Fronda DC. J Nurs Manag. 2022;30:62-70.
Missed or incomplete nursing care can adversely affect care quality and safety. Based on survey responses from 295 frontline nurses in the Philippines, this study explored factors contributing to missed nursing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest that nurses most frequently missed tasks such as patient surveillance, comforting patients, skin care, ambulation, and oral hygiene. The authors suggest that increasing nurse staffing, adequate use of personal protective equipment, and improved safety culture may reduce instances of missed care.