This Primer provides an overview of the history and current status of the patient safety field and key definitions and concepts. It links to other Patient Safety Primers that discuss the concepts in more detail.
When patients in two cases did not receive complete preanesthetic evaluation, problems with intubation ensued. In the first case, an anesthesiologist went to evaluate a morbidly obese patient scheduled for hysteroscopy. As the patient was donning her hospital gown behind a closed curtain, he waited but left without performing the preoperative assessment because the morning surgery list was overbooked and he had many other patients to see. Once in the operating room, he discovered on chart review that the woman had a history of gastroesophageal reflux.
Handoffs are comprised of a multitude of steps that are prone to communication error. This commentary describes how a hospital drew from Lean Six Sigma concepts to develop and implement a standardized handoff process. The effort achieved improvements and established a concrete method for nurses to apply safe communication and data sharing principles in the perioperative environment.
Several days after a patient’s surgery, preliminary wound cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus. Although the final sensitivity profile for the cultures showed resistance to the antibiotic that the patient was receiving, the care team was not notified and the patient died of sepsis.
A woman with a fractured right foot receives spinal anesthesia and nearly has surgery for trimalleolar fracture and dislocation of the left ankle. Only immediately prior to surgery did the team realize that the x-ray was not hers.
Owing to privacy concerns, a nurse draws the drapes on a 3-year-old child in recovery following surgery, and unfortunately does not realize the child is in distress until loud inspiratory stridor is heard.
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