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Grailey K, Leon-Villapalos C, Murray E, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11(8):e046699.
Psychological safety enables staff to raise concerns, reduce mistakes and learn from errors. The majority of surveyed intensive care unit staff in three units within one trust in London reported feeling psychologically safe within their teams (e.g. being able to bring up problems). In a novel finding, this study identified potential negative consequences of psychological safety, including distraction and fatigue for team leaders.
Davidson JE, Chechel L, Chavez J, et al. Am J Crit Care. 2021;30(5):375-384.
Nurses play a critical role in ensuring patient safety. Following the Joint Commission’s revised standards for titration of continuous intravenous medications, 730 nurses were surveyed about their experiences. Based on 159 comments, two overarching themes were identified: harms (e.g., erosion of workplace wellness, moral dilemma, patient safety) and professionalism (e.g., autonomy, nurse proficiency).
Pilosof NP, Barrett M, Oborn E, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(16):8391.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic changes in healthcare delivery. Based on semi-structured interviews and direct observations, researchers evaluated the impact of a new model of remote inpatient care using telemedicine technologies in response to the pandemic. Intensive care and internal medicine units were divided into contaminated and clean zones and an integrated control room with audio-visual technologies allowed for remote supervision, communication, and support. The authors conclude that this model can increase flexibility in staffing via remote consultations and allow staff to supervise and monitor more patients without compromising patient and staff safety.
Driessen RGH, Latten BGH, Bergmans DCJJ, et al. Virchows Arch. 2020;478(6):1173-1178.
Autopsies are an important tool for detecting misdiagnoses. Autopsies were performed on 32 septic individuals who died within 48 hours of admission to the intensive care unit. Of those, four patients were found to have class I missed major diagnosis. These results underscore the need to perform autopsies to improve diagnosis.
Diabes MA, Ervin JN, Davis BS, et al. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2021;18(6):1027-1033.
A key feature of safety culture is the psychological safety of all staff to feel empowered to speak up about errors or mistakes. In this study of intensive care unit clinicians, job strain, leader inclusiveness and perception of teamwork were associated with psychological safety. However, psychological safety was not associated with performance of either spontaneous breathing trials or lung-protective ventilation. Future research should focus on strategies to improve psychological safety in intensive care units.
Melnyk BM, Tan A, Hsieh AP, et al. Am J Crit Care. 2021;30.
This survey of 771 critical care nurses found that 40% had at least one symptom of depression and nearly half experienced some degree of anxiety. Nurses with poor physical or mental health reported making more medical errors than their healthier counterparts and nurses in supportive workplaces were more likely to have better physical and mental health. The authors suggest that improvements in an organization’s health and wellness support programs could result in fewer reported medical errors. Notably, this study was completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to an even further decline in nurse wellness. 
Fischer CP, Bilimoria KY, Ghaferi AA. JAMA. 2021;326(2):179-180.
Rapid response teams (RRTs) are intended to quickly identify clinical deterioration and prevent intensive care unit transfer, cardiac arrest, or death. This article summarizes the evidence included in the AHRQ Making Healthcare Safer III report about the use of RRTs to decrease failure to rescue. Although utilization is widespread, the authors conclude that definitive evidence that RRTs are associated with reduced rates of failure to rescue is inconclusive. The authors note that evidence does support that RRTs are associated with reduced secondary outcomes, such as ICU transfer rate and cardiac arrest.
Evans S, Green A, Roberson A, et al. J Pediatr Nurs. 2021;61:151-156.
A lack of situational awareness can lead to delayed recognition of patient deterioration. This children’s hospital developed and implemented a situational awareness framework designed to decrease emergency transfers to the intensive care unit (ICU). The framework included both objective and subjective criteria. By identifying patients at increased risk of clinical deterioration (“watcher status”) and use of the framework, recognition of deterioration occurred sooner and resulted in fewer emergency transfers to the ICU.

A 64-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital for aortic valve replacement and aortic aneurysm repair. Following surgery, she became hypotensive and was given intravenous fluid boluses and vasopressor support with norepinephrine. On postoperative day 2, a fluid bolus was ordered; however, the fluid bag was attached to the IV line that had the vasopressor at a Y-site and the bolus was initiated.

Buetti N, Ruckly S, de Montmollin E, et al. Intensive Care Med. 2021;47(2):180-187.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in infection prevention and control practices and increased the risk for some healthcare-acquired infections. In this prospective matched case-cohort study, researchers found that after 7 days in the intensive care unit (ICU), the risk of ICU-acquired blood stream infections was higher among patients with COVID-19 compared to other critically ill patients.
Lewandowska K, Weisbrot M, Cieloszyk A, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(22):8409.
Alarm fatigue, which can lead to desensitization and threaten patient safety, is particularly concerning in intensive care settings. This systematic review concluded that alarm fatigue may have serious consequences for both patients and nursing staff. Included studies reported that nurses considered alarms to be burdensome, too frequent, interfering with patient care, and resulted in distrust in the alarm system. These findings point to the need for a strategy for alarm management and measuring alarm fatigue.  
Decormeille G, Maurer-Maouchi V, Mercier G, et al. Crit Care Med. 2021;49(1):e20-e30.
Common nursing procedures, such as bathing patients in their beds, can result in physiologic changes or accidental displacement of medical devices that may be dangerous to the patient. This study of 254 intensive care patients across Western Europe found that serious adverse events occurred in half of patients during bed bathing.
Procaccini D, Rapaport R, Petty BG, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;46(12):706-714.
The use of PRN (“as needed”) medications is a common source of medication errors. The authors describe the implementation of staff education and a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) order set (with predefined PRN orders), which led to increased compliance with Joint Commission medication management standards. The related editorial discusses how investment in human factors and ergonomics can contribute to healthcare quality and safety improvements.
Myers LC, Heard L, Mort E. Am J Crit Care. 2020;29(3):174-181.
This study reviewed medical malpractice claims data between 2007 and 2016 to describe the types of patient safety events involving critical care nurses. Decubitus ulcers were the most common diagnosis in claims involving ICU nurses and compared to nurses in emergency departments and operating rooms, ICU nurses were likely to have a malpractice claim alleging failure to monitor.
Furniss D, Dean Franklin B, Blandford A. Health Inform J. 2020;26(1):576-591.
The authors conducted a sociotechnical investigation to describe the implementation of a closed-loop documentation system linked with smart pumps for intravenous infusion administration in one ICU. These types of closed-loop systems automate steps in the documentation of medication administration. In this case, the smart pumps were ‘mapped’ to an electronic prescribing and administration system. As a result, nurses do not need to manually enter these data after administration.
Sauro KM, Soo A, de Grood C, et al. Crit Care Med. 2020.
Researchers in this multicenter cohort study found that 19% of patients experienced an adverse event during the transition from the intensive care unit (ICU)  to the hospital ward, with most (62%) occurring within three days of transfer. Compared to patients who did not experience an adverse events, those with adverse events were at increased risk for negative outcomes including ICU readmission, increased length of stay and inpatient morality. Approximately one-third (36%) of these events were deemed preventable by the research team.
Sanson G, Marino C, Valenti A, et al. Heart & Lung. 2020;49(4):407-414.
Prospective observational study examined whether nursing complexity level predicts adverse event risk among patients transferred from the ICU to the discharge ward. In this 13-bed ICU, researchers found that various factors including level of acuity and nursing complexity predated risk of adverse events (AEs); patients who exceeded a predetermined complexity threshold were at 3-times greater risk of AEs.