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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.

McGaughey J, Fergusson DA, Van Bogaert P, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021;2021(11).
Rapid response systems (RRS) and early warning systems (EWS) are designed to detect patient deterioration and prevent cardiac arrest, transfer to the intensive care unit, or death. This review updates the authors’ review published in 2007. Eleven studies representing patients in 282 hospitals were reviewed to determine the effect of RRS or EWS on patient outcomes.

Bergl PA, Nanchal RS, eds. Crit Care Clin. 2022;38(1):1-158.

Critical care diagnosis is complicated by factors such as stress, patient acuity and uncertainty. This special issue summarizes individual and process challenges to the safety of diagnosis in critical care. Articles included examine educational approaches, teamwork and rethinking care processes as improvement strategies.
McHale S, Marufu TC, Manning JC, et al. Nurs Crit Care. 2021;Epub Oct 20.
Failure to identify and prevent clinical deterioration can reflect the quality and effectiveness of care. This study used routinely collected emergency event data to identify failure to rescue events at one tertiary children’s hospital. Over a nine-year period, 520 emergency events were identified; 25% were cardiac arrest events and 60% occurred among patients who had been admitted for more than 48 hours. Over the nine-year period, failure to rescue events decreased from 23.6% to 2.5%.
Bennion J, Mansell SK. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2021;82(8):1-8.
Many strategies have been developed to improve recognition of, and response, to clinically deteriorating patients. This review found that simulation-based educational strategies was the most effective educational method for training staff to recognize unwell patients. However, the quality of evidence was low and additional research into simulation-based education is needed.
Coldewey B, Diruf A, Röhrig R, et al. Appl Ergon. 2021;98:103544.
Medical devices without user-friendly interface designs may contribute to patient complications. This review explores problems in the use and design of mechanical ventilators that challenge safe use. The authors provide recommendations to product engineers to improve safe ventilator design.
Hennus MP, Young JQ, Hennessy M, et al. ATS Sch. 2021;2(3):397-414.
The surge of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the redeployment of non-intensive care certified staff into intensive care units (ICU). This study surveyed both intensive care (IC)-certified and non-IC-certified healthcare providers who were working in ICUs at the beginning of the pandemic. Qualitative synthesis identified five themes related to supervision; quality and safety of care; collaboration, communication, and climate; recruitment, scheduling and team composition, and; organization and facilities. The authors provide recommendations for future deployments.
Leibner ES, Baron EL, Shah RS, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;Epub Sep 28.
During the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid redeployment of noncritical care healthcare staff was necessary to meet the unprecedented number of patients needing critical care. A New York health system developed a multidisciplinary simulation training program to prepare the redeployed staff for new roles in the intensive care unit (ICU). The training included courses on management of a patient with acute decompensation with COVID-19, critical care basics for the non-ICU provider, and manual proning of a mechanically ventilated patient.
Davidson JE, Doran N, Petty A, et al. Am J Crit Care. 2021;30(5):365-374.
The Joint Commission implemented medication management titration standards in 2017, with revisions in 2020. Researchers surveyed critical care nurses about their experiences with medication titration, use of clinical judgment when titrating, nurses’ scope and autonomy, and their moral distress. Of 781 respondents, 80% perceived the titration standards caused delays in patient care and 68% reported suboptimal care, both of which significantly and strongly predicted moral distress.
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(3):176-184.
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.