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This case involves a 2-year-old girl with acute myelogenous leukemia and thrombocytopenia (platelet count 26,000 per microliter) who underwent implantation of a central venous catheter with a subcutaneous port. The anesthetist asked the surgeon to order a platelet transfusion to increase the child’s platelet count to above 50,000 per microliter. In the post-anesthesia care unit, the patient’s arterial blood pressure started fluctuating and she developed cardiac arrest.

The Revised Safer Dx Instrument provides a standardized list of questions to help users retrospectively identify and assess the likelihood of a missed diagnosis in a healthcare episode. Results of the assessment are intended for use in system-level safety improvement efforts, clinician feedback, and patient safety research.

The instrument consists of a series of questions that address five aspects of the diagnostic process: (1) the patient-provider encounter (history, physical examination, ordering tests/referrals based on assessment); (2) performance and interpretation of diagnostic tests; (3) follow-up and tracking of diagnostic information over time; (4) subspecialty and referral-specific factors; and (5) patient-related factors.1 To answer the questions, the evaluator collects data from comprehensive electronic health records including information on a patient’s medical history, examination information, diagnostic test interpretation, and follow-up testing and diagnostic assessment. If the assessment indicates there was a likely diagnostic error (defined as a missed opportunity in diagnosis), users have the option to complete an additional process breakdown assessment as a guide designed to help identify factors contributing to the potential missed opportunity.

The original tool, the Safer Dx Instrument, was validated in a primary care setting, and results were published in 2016. In this study, the instrument yielded overall accuracy of 84%.2 A study published in 2017 on use of the tool in a pediatric intensive care unit found the tool had inter-rater agreement of 93.6% (k, 0.72).3 The project team made minor revisions to the original tool to address feedback from the pilot studies, as well as from several national experts. Since the release of the revised iteration of the tool (i.e., the Revised Safer Dx Instrument), use of condition-specific adaptations of the tool (e.g., Safer Stroke Dx) have found it to yield accurate results.4,5

For the best results, the project team suggests having multiple reviewers complete the assessment and discuss findings. Additionally, sites that wish to implement the tool may benefit from an existing safety environment that is supportive, with elements such as a patient safety culture, existing safety programs, and adequate staffing resources to implement the tool, including a multidisciplinary team with a dedicated safety analyst.

Oura P. Prev Med Rep. 2021;24:101574.
Accurate measurement of adverse event rates is critical to patient safety improvement efforts. This study used 2018 mortality data and ICD-10-CM codes to characterize adverse event deaths in the United States compared to non-adverse event deaths. The author estimates that 0.16-1.13% of deaths are attributed to an adverse event. Procedure-related complications contributed to the majority of adverse event deaths. The risk of death due to adverse event was higher for younger patients and Black patients.
Zrelak PA, Utter GH, McDonald KM, et al. Health Serv Res. 2021;Epub Dec 4.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) are widely used for measuring and reporting hospital quality and patient safety. This paper describes the process of reweighing the composite patient safety indicator (PSI 90) to incorporate excess harm reflecting patients’ preferences for various possible related outcomes (e.g., readmissions, reoperation, long-term care stay, death). Compared to the original frequency-based weighting, some component indicators in the reweighted composite – including postoperative respiratory failure, postoperative sepsis, and perioperative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis – contributed to the greatest harm.
St.Pierre M, Grawe P, Bergström J, et al. Safety Sci. 2021;147:105593.
The release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s To Err is Human report in 1999 was a seminal moment in the patient safety movement. This bibliometric analysis found that the report has been mentioned in over 20,000 scientific publications since 2000, but that the themes of recent research do not necessarily align with the initial focus of the IOM report. For example, research on incident reporting and systems approaches to improving safety are underrepresented relative to their emphasis in the IOM report.

Institute for Safe Medication Practices

The perioperative setting is a high-risk area for medication errors, should they occur. This assessment provides hospitals and outpatient surgical providers a tool to examine their medication use processes and share data nationwide for comparison. Organizational participation can identify strengths and gaps in their systems to design opportunities that prevent patient harm. The deadline for submitting data is February 11, 2022.
Eiding H, Røise O, Kongsgaard UE. J Patient Saf. 2022;18(1):e315-e319.
Reporting patient safety incidents is essential to improving patient safety. This study compared the number of self-reported (to the study team) safety incidents during interhospital transport and the number of incidents submitted to the hospital’s reporting system. Nearly half of all patient transports had at least one self-reported incident; however, only 1% of incidents were reported to the hospital’s electronic reporting system.
Höcherl A, Lüttel D, Schütze D, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18(1):e85-e91.
Critical incident reporting systems (CIRS) are used to improve learning and patient safety. The aim of this study was to support future implementation of CIRS in primary care by discussing types of incidents that should be reported; who can report incidents (e.g., nurses, physicians, patients); whether reporting is mandatory or voluntary or both depending on incident severity; local versus central analysis; barriers and methods to overcome them; and motivation for reporting.

Washington, DC: United States Government Accountability Office; November 30, 2021. Publication GAO-22-105142.

Patient complaints have the potential to be used for care improvement as they surface problems in health facilities. This report examined complaint response processes in Veterans Affairs nursing homes and found them lacking. Five recommendations submitted to drive improvement underscore the value of adherence to policy and the transfer of complaint experiences to leadership.

Croke L. Guideline for prevention of unintentionally retained surgical items. AORN J. 2021;114(6):4-6. doi: 

Retained surgical items (RSI) are a never event, yet they continue to happen. This commentary summarizes recent changes to an existing guidance that defines a range of retained devices or products to coalesce with industry terminology. The author shares steps to reduce the potential for RSI retention. A related webinar will be held February 2, 2022.

The medication-use process is highly complex with many steps and risk points for error, and those errors are a key target for improving safety. This Library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on medication and drug errors. Included resources explore understanding harms from preventable medication use, medication safety improvement strategies, and resources for design.

Holmes J, Chipman M, Barbour T, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48(1):12-24.
Air medical transport carries unique patient safety risks. In this study, researchers used simulation training and healthcare failure mode and effect analysis (HFMEA) to identify latent safety threats related to patient transport via helicopter. This approach identified 31 latent safety threats (18 were deemed critical) related to care coordination, facilities, equipment, and devices.

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Care Quality Commission; September 2021.

The safety of maternity care is threatened by inequity. This report analyzes a set of United Kingdom investigation reports to identify issues affecting maternity care to determine their prevalence elsewhere in the system. Problems identified include poor leadership and teamwork, as well as learning and cross-service collaboration.
Mazor KM, Kamineni A, Roblin DW, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):e1278-e1284.
Patient engagement and encouraging speaking up can promote safety. This randomized study found that patients undergoing cancer treatment who were randomized to an active outreach program were significantly more likely to speak up and report healthcare concerns than patients in the control group.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement. March 15 - April 26, 2022.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a widely recognized retrospective strategy for learning from failure that is challenging to implement. This series of webinars will feature an innovative approach to RCA that expands on the concept to facilitate its use in incident investigations. Instructors for the series will include Dr. Terry Fairbanks and Dr. Tejal K. Gandhi.

Wiig S, Haraldseid-Driftland C, Tvete Zachrisen R, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):e1707-e1718.  

Families and next of kin are important partners in patient safety. In two Norwegian counties, next of kin who had lost a family member due to an adverse event participated in in-person meetings with inspectors as part of the regulatory investigation. This study explored the experiences and perspectives of the next of kin (Part 1) and regulatory inspectors (Part 2) involved in this new approach to next-of-kin involvement in regulatory investigations. Despite being an emotionally challenging process, next of kin viewed participation in the regulatory investigation as a positive experience and believed that their contributions improved the investigation process.