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The focus on patient safety in the ambulatory setting was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriately shifting priorities to responding to the pandemic. This piece explores some of the core themes of patient safety in the ambulatory setting, including diagnostic safety and diagnostic errors. Ways to enhance patient safety in the ambulatory care setting and next steps in ambulatory care safety are addressed. 

Zimolzak AJ, Singh H, Murphy DR, et al. BMJ Health Care Inform. 2022;29(1):e100565.

Patient safety algorithms developed through research must also be implemented into clinical practice. This article describes the process of translating an electronic health record-based algorithm for detecting missed follow-up of colorectal or lung cancer testing, from research into practice. All 12 test sites were able to successfully implement the trigger and identify appropriate cases.
Lacson R, Khorasani R, Fiumara K, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:e522-e527.
Root cause analysis is a commonly used tool to identify systems-related factors that contributed to an adverse event. This study assessed a system-based approach, (i.e., collaborative case reviews (CCR) co-led by radiology and an institutional patient safety program) to identify contributing factors and explore the strength of recommended actions in the radiology department at a large academic medical center. Stronger action items, such as standardization of processes, were implemented in 41% of events, and radiology had higher completion rates than other hospital departments.

The Patient Safe-D(ischarge) program used standardized tools to educate patients about their discharge needs, test understanding of those needs, and improve medication reconciliation at admission and discharge. A quasi-randomized controlled trial of the program found that it significantly increased patients' understanding and knowledge of their diagnoses, treatment, and required follow-up care.

Richmond RT, McFadzean IJ, Vallabhaneni P. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001142.
Timely completion of discharge summaries can improve handoffs with outpatient physicians and ensure communication of potential patient safety problems. This quality improvement project used an established change model to improve the rate of discharge summary completed within 24 hours from less than 10%, to 84% within 2 months.
Lindblad M, Unbeck M, Nilsson L, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20:289.
This study used a trigger tool to retrospectively identify and characterize no-harm incidents affecting adult patients in home healthcare settings in Sweden. The most common incidents identified by the trigger tool were falls without injury, medication management incidents, and moderate pain. Common contributing factors included delayed, erroneous, or incomplete nursing care and treatment.
Jarrett T, Cochran J, Baus A. J Nurs Care Qual. 2020;35:233-239.
The Medications at Transitions and Clinical Handoffs Toolkit (MATCH) provides strategies to implement and improve medication reconciliation in healthcare. This article describes the implementation of MATCH in a rural primary care clinic and the resulting improvements in medication reconciliation workflows.
Pfeiffer Y, Zimmermann C, Schwappach DLB. J Patient Saf. 2020;Publish Ahead of Print.
This study examined patient safety issues stemming from health information technology (HIT)-related information management hazards. The authors identified eleven thematic groups describing such hazards occurring at a systemic level, such as fragmentation of patient information, “information islands” (e.g., nurses and physicians have separate information sets despite the same HIT system), and inadequate information structures (e.g., no drug interaction warning integrated in the chemotherapy prescribing tool).
Malterud K, Aamland A, Fosse A. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2020;38.
Using qualitative analysis, this study explored the experiences of general practitioners in Norway with horizontal task shifting (defined as tasks shifted between equivalent professionals, such as hospital specialists and other specialists) and whether task shifting increased patient safety risks. The study identified several types of adverse events associated with horizontal task shifting, such as delays in diagnosis, overdiagnosis, and reduced access to care.
Williams S, Fiumara K, Kachalia A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2020;46:44-50.
A lack of closed-loop feedback systems has been identified as one contributor to underreporting of patient safety events. This paper describes one large academic medical center’s implementation of a Feedback to Reporter program in ambulatory care, which aimed to ensure feedback on safety reports is provided to reporting staff by managers. At baseline, 50% of staff who requested feedback ultimately received it; after three years, the rate of feedback to reporters had increased to 90%.
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.
Dinsdale E, Hannigan A, O'Connor R, et al. Fam Pract. 2019.
Clear communication between primary care physicians and the providers to whom they refer patients has important implications for achieving accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans for patients. In this observational study, researchers included 6603 patients from 68 general medical practices in Ireland, randomly selecting 100 patients from each practice and excluding patients without complete records. They analyzed referral documentation and responses received from subspecialists as well as discharge summaries from hospitalizations over a 2-year period, compared with established national standards. Although 82% of referral letters included current medications, only 30% of response letters and discharge summaries contained medication changes and 33% had medication lists. The authors conclude that significant communication gaps exist between primary and secondary care and that further research is needed to understand how to address them. A past PSNet perspective discussed challenges associated with care transitions.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2016. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0035-2-EF.
Patient safety in ambulatory care is receiving increased attention. This guide includes case studies that explore how Open Notes, team-based care delivery, and patient and family advisory committees have shown promise as patient engagement and safety improvement mechanisms in primary care settings.
Jackson PD, Biggins MS, Cowan L, et al. Rehabil Nurs. 2016;41:135-48.
Transitions are a complicated and vulnerable time for patients, particularly for those with complex care needs. This review examines the literature around care transitions and insights from patient and family advisory councils. The authors recommend standardizing the process for veterans with complex conditions and suggest focus on the use of real-time information exchange, documented care plans, and engaging patients and their families in transitions.
Kizer KW, Jha AK. N Engl J Med. 2014;371:295-297.
In response to a recent investigation raising concerns about inaccurate reporting of wait-time data, this commentary relates barriers to improving patient safety, such as overuse of performance measures. The authors describe approaches to augment safety, such as narrowing down performance measures to address the most significant concerns and engaging private health care organizations in improvement projects.
Sokol PE, Wynia MK; AMA Expert Panel on Care Transitions. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association; February 2013.
This report proposes five responsibilities for ambulatory care practices to ensure safe care transitions and describes principles to guide staff in performing these tasks.