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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.

Chiel L, Freiman E, Yarahuan J, et al. Hosp Pediatr. 2021;12(1):e35-e38.
Medical residents write patient care orders overnight that are often not reviewed by attending physicians until the next morning. This study used the hospital’s data warehouse and retrospective chart review to examine 5927 orders over a 12-month period, 538 were included in the analysis. Key reasons for order changes included medical decision making, patient trajectory, and medication errors. Authors suggest errors of omission may be an area to direct safety initiatives in the future.
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.
Mercer K, Carter C, Burns C, et al. JMIR Hum Factors. 2021;8(4):e22325.
Clear communication regarding medication indications can improve patient safety. This scoping review explored how including the indication on a prescription may impact prescribing practice. Studies suggest that including the indication can help identify errors, support communication, and improve patient safety, but prescribers noted concerns about impacts on workflow and patient privacy.

Weber L, Jewett C. Kaiser Health News. 2021-2022.

The infectious nature of COVID continues to impact the safety of hospitalized patients. This article series examines factors contributing to hospital-acquired COVID-19 infection that include weaknesses in oversight, patient legal protections, and documentation.
Alsabri M, Boudi Z, Lauque D, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18(1):e351-e361.
Medical errors are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, and frequently result from potentially preventable human errors associated with poor communication and teamwork. This systematic review included 16 studies that were examined for assessment tools, training interventions, safety culture improvement, and teamwork intervention outcomes. The authors conclude that training staff on teamwork and communication improve the safety culture, and may reduce medical errors and adverse events in the Emergency Department.
Ranji SR, Thomas EJ. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Jan 5.
Diagnostic safety interventions have been empirically evaluated but real-world implementation challenges persist. This commentary discusses the importance of incorporating contextual factors (e.g., social, cultural) facing complex healthcare systems into the design of diagnostic safety interventions. The authors provide recommendations for designing studies to improve diagnosis that take contextual factors into consideration.
Etherington C, Kitto S, Burns JK, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21(1):1357.
Gender bias has been implicated in negatively affecting patient safety. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews to explore how gender and other social identify factors impact experiences and teamwork in the operating room. Researchers found that women being routinely challenged or ignored or perceived negatively when assertive may hinder their pursuit of leadership positions or certain specialties. Implicit gender bias and stereotypes along with deeply entrenched structural barriers persist and complicate hierarchical relations between professions – all contributing to breakdowns in communication, increased patient safety risks, and poor team morale.  
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.
Bacon CT, McCoy TP, Henshaw DS, et al. J Nurs Adm. 2021;51(11):e20-e26.
Organizational safety climate (OSC) has been associated with positive nurse outcomes. This study compared the association between organizational climate and job enjoyment in two surgical units, one that received crew resource management (CRM) training and the other that did not. The study used the Hospital Culture of Safety framework as a theoretical basis and found that job enjoyment and organizational safety climate scores were higher in the hospitals that received CRM training compared with those that did not.
Samuels A, Broome ME, McDonald TB, et al. J Patient Saf Risk Manage. 2021;26(6):251-260.
Healthcare systems have implemented communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) (aka CANDOR) to encourage early disclosure of adverse events. This evaluation found that CRP training participants demonstrated improvements in self-reported empathy and communication skills.
Grauer A, Kneifati-Hayek J, Reuland B, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;Epub Dec 28.
Problem lists, while an important part of high-quality care, are frequently incomplete or lack accuracy. This study examined the effectiveness of leveraging indication alerts in electronic health records (EHR) (medication ordered lacking a corresponding problem on the problem list) in two different hospitals using different EHRs. Both sites resulted in a proportion of new problems being added to the problem list for the medications triggered. Between 9.6% and 11.1% were abandoned (order started but not signed), which needs further study.
Warner MA, Warner ME. Anesthesiology. 2021;135(6):963-974.
The legacy of anesthesiology as a leader in patient safety is reviewed as a model for other communities seeking to reduce medical error. The authors highlight the collaboration strategies that the specialty embraced as a key component of its success.
Ebbens MM, Gombert-Handoko KB, Wesselink EJ, et al. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021;22(12):2553-2558.e1.
Medication reconciliation has been shown to reduce medication errors but is a time-consuming process. This study compared medication reconciliation via a patient portal with those performed by a pharmacy technician (usual care). Medication discrepancies were similar between both groups, and patients were satisfied using the patient portal, which saved 6.8 minutes per patient compared with usual care.
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.

Cohen M, Degnan D, McDonnell P, eds. Patient Saf. 2022;4(s1):1-45

Pharmacists play a unique role in patient safety that educational methods are shifting to address. This special issue covers several topics including strategies to reduce the susceptibility of hospitalized infants and children to medication errors, and infusing safety culture into pharmacy school curriculum.

Ehrenwerth J. UptoDate. November 5, 2021.

Operating room fires are never events that, while rare, still harbor great potential for harm. This review discusses settings prone to surgical fire events, prevention strategies, and care management steps should patients be harmed by an operating room fire.

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.