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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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
Vaughan CP, Hwang U, Vandenberg AE, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(4):e001369.
Prescribing potentially inappropriate medications (such as antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants) can lead to adverse health outcomes. The Enhancing Quality of Prescribing Practices for Older Adults in the Emergency Department (EQUIPPED) program is a multicomponent intervention intended to reduce potentially inappropriate prescribing among older adults who are discharged from the emergency department. Twelve months after implementation at three academic health systems, the EQUIPPED program significantly reduced overall potentially inappropriate prescribing at one site; the proportion of benzodiazepine prescriptions decreased across all sites.
Viscardi MK, French R, Brom H, et al. Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2022;Epub Jan 6.
Health care work environments can influence safety culture and teamwork. This study used multiyear survey data from registered nurses in 503 hospitals across four states to explore the association between nurse work environment and healthcare quality, patient safety, and patient outcomes. Findings indicate that nurse work environment (such as nurse participation in hospital affairs, nurse manager capability, leadership support, and nurse-physician relationships) is an important factor to improving the experiences of patients and nurses, especially those in hospitals caring for economically disadvantaged patients.
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.

Bryant A. UpToDate. September 13, 2021.

Implicit bias is progressively being discussed as a detractor to safe health care by fostering racial and ethnic inequities. This review examines the history of health inequities at the patient, provider, health care system, and cultural levels in obstetric and gynecologic care. It shares actions documented in the evidence base for application in health care to reduce the impact of implicit bias, with an eye toward maternal care