The AHRQ PSNet Collection comprises an extensive selection of resources relevant to the patient safety community. These resources come in a variety of formats, including literature, research, tools, and Web sites. Resources are identified using the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database, various news and content aggregators, and the expertise of the AHRQ PSNet editorial and technical teams.
Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; July 2018. ISBN: 9789241513906.
The Crossing the Quality Chasm report outlined the importance of building health care processes that ensure safe, efficient, effective, timely, equitable, and patient-centered health care practice. Spotlighting the importance of an integrated approach to achieving high-quality care, this report outlines how governments, health services, health care staff, and patients can enhance health care quality. A past PSNet interview discussed the global impact of the World Health Organization's efforts to improve patient safety.
Battles J, Azam I, Grady M, Reback K, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2017. AHRQ Publication No. 17-0017-EF.
This publication describes the results of demonstration projects funded by AHRQ's Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Initiative. Included studies examined communication and resolution programs, patient reporting of adverse events, and patient perceptions of error disclosure. An overarching theme of these studies is the gap between recommended communication practices and usual clinical care and communication. Several studies demonstrated challenges of implementing health system interventions to improve safety across a range of interventions, including error disclosure training, shared decision-making, and medication safety during transitions in care. These studies reveal the importance of measuring and improving safety culture as a foundation for patient safety efforts. Commentaries by various patient safety experts highlight the need for ongoing support for research at the intersection of patient safety and medical liability. A past PSNet perspective described how evidence-based improvements to the medical liability system could influence accountability and compensation for errors.
Dekker S. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2017. ISBN: 9781472475756.
Although early efforts in the patient safety movement focused on shifting the blame for errors from individuals to system-failures, more recently the pendulum has swung slightly back to try and balance a "no blame" culture with appropriate personal accountability. This tension was notably described early on in the context of resident training programs. Dr. Dekker's book addresses the traditional criminalization of mistakes and draws from several high-risk industries to illustrate how a just culture is a more effective strategy to learn from and prevent error. He argues that a just culture in health care is critical to creating a safety culture. The third edition offers new content related to restorative justice and explores the reasons why individuals break rules.
Levinson DR. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; November 2010. Report No. OEI-06-09-00090.
Hospitalized patients continue to suffer iatrogenic harm, according to this study of Medicare patients completed by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Using methodology similar to the landmark Harvard Medical Practice Study, this study found that 13.5% of hospitalized Medicare patients experienced an adverse event, of which nearly half were considered preventable. However, fewer than 2% of patients experienced either a never event or a preventable complication for which hospitals are no longer reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These results are similar to the OIG's prior 2008 report. Based on these results, OIG recommends further efforts to accurately measure adverse events, and also recommends broadening the "no pay for errors" policy. The challenges of accurately measuring safety problems are discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
Ulmer C, Wolman DM, Johns MME, eds. Committee on Optimizing Graduate Medical Trainee (Resident) Hours and Work Schedule to Improve Patient Safety, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2008. ISBN: 9780309127721.
The 2003 regulations limiting housestaff work hours have had a profound impact on residency training. Although clinical outcomes appear to be unaffected, faculty and residents have expressed concern that education has been harmed, and the regulations' effect on patient safety remains unclear. The Institute of Medicine's report bases its recommendations on the growing body of research linking clinician fatigue and error, and recommends eliminating extended-duration shifts (defined as more than 16 hours), increasing days off, and improving sleep hygiene by reducing night duty and providing more scheduled sleep breaks. The report estimates that approximately $1.7 billion would be required to hire additional staff to allow residency programs to adhere to these recommendations. A related editorial discusses the balance between patient safety, resident safety, and resident education that was central to the development of these recommendations.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; July 2008. AHRQ Publication Nos. 080034 (1-4).
The 115 articles freely available in this latest issue of AHRQ's Advances in Patient Safety represent the state of the art in patient safety. Serving as an update and extension to the prior volume, the articles are grouped into four major content areas—assessment, culture and redesign, performance and tools, and technology and medication safety—and are freely available online through the link below.
Washington DC: National Quality Forum; December 2011.
The National Quality Forum originally defined 27 health care "never events"—patient safety events that pose serious harm to patients, but should be considered preventable—in 2002. The 2011 update now consists of 29 events, organized into surgical events (e.g., wrong-site surgery), device events (e.g., air embolism), care management events (e.g., death or disability due to medication errors), patient protection events (e.g., patient suicide), environmental events (e.g., fires), radiologic events, and criminal events. One notable addition to the original list is that serious harm associated with failure to properly follow up on test results is now considered a never event. Since the development and dissemination of this list, many states have mandated that health care facilities report all instances of these events. When such an event occurs, many institutions mandate performance of a root cause analysis.
Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry; The Stationery Office. London, England: Crown Copyright; 2002.
In June 1998, the Secretary for Health announced to Parliament the organization of a formal Inquiry into children's heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1984 and 1995. Their objectives included understanding what happened in Bristol, assessing the quality of care and system failures that contributed to deaths, and generating lessons that could be learned for the entire National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. The inquiry was independent and not held as a legal proceeding, but provided a comprehensive investigation with interviews, expert panels, and a goal of driving improvement efforts. Section one of the report outlines pediatric cardiac surgical services in Bristol while section two focuses on recommendations to ensure high quality care across the NHS. Several publications resulted from the learnings of the Bristol inquiry, including a discussion of cultural entrapment and lessons for quality improvement.
Henriksen K, Battles JB, Marks ES, et al, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2005.
With 4 volumes and 140 articles (all of which are freely available through the link below), this expansive collection of literature illustrates the progress made since the 1999 Institute of Medicine’s report, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. The efforts represent a successful collaboration between the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Department of Defense-Health Affairs in meeting the challenge of improving patient safety knowledge, research, and implementation.
Kohn KT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS, eds. Washington, DC: Committee on Quality Health Care in America, Institute of Medicine: National Academy Press; 1999.
One measure of the impact of this report, the first in the series of reports by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the quality of health care in the United States, is that one can still refer to “The IOM Report” and everyone will recognize the reference to To Err is Human (despite the fact that, as of this writing, the IOM has released approximately 250 reports since To Err). In fact, many argue that the modern field of patient safety began with this report’s publication. Although the report has been criticized for its strong focus on medication errors and computerized order entry (to the exclusion of other safety concerns) and the relatively limited discussion of the impact of the malpractice system, there is no mistaking its impact. Perhaps its most famous contribution was the extrapolation of the Harvard Medical Practice Study data and the Utah and Colorado Medical Practice Study data, which led to the famous estimate of 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year from medical errors (the equivalent of a jumbo jet a day). Whether one believes these numbers or not, it is clear that the IOM report was essential in placing the issue of medical mistakes on the public and professional agenda.
Marx DA. New York, NY: Trustees of Columbia University; 2001.
Accountability is a concept that many wrestle with as they steer their organizations and patients toward understanding and accepting the idea of a blameless culture within the context of medical injury. Marx presents the concept from the legal perspective but does so for the non-barrister. Written prior to the acceptance of open disclosure or general policy support of it, the primer thoughtfully outlines the complex nature of deciding how best to hold individuals accountable for mistakes. Four key behavior concepts serve as the structure for the paper: human error, negligence, reckless conduct, and knowing violations. How they are applied to various situations in health care and how the individuals involved should be disciplined provide thoughtful reading.
Robins NS. New York NY: Delacorte Press; 1995. ISBN: 9780385308090.
Robins, an investigative journalist, recounts the story of Libby Zion, who died at New York Hospital in 1984 allegedly at the hands of under-supervised and overworked residents. The book is an interesting and engaging account of a case and its aftermath, including the highly publicized malpractice trial and the formation of the Bell Commission, which regulated resident work-hours for the first time. The book provides an important historical context for this case and the debate surrounding it, the implications of which are still being felt today in the wake of national regulations for resident duty-hours.
Sharpe VA, Faden AI. Cambridge NY; Cambridge University Press; 1998. ISBN: 9780521634908
An academic exploration into the history of patient harm, this book explores the ethics that drive decision making and management of the professionals involved. Within that context, the changes in the patient-physician relationships over time are reviewed. The problems and dangers inherent in medical progress, from adverse drug reactions to unnecessary surgery, are discussed, and causative factors from both the clinical and administrative sides of medicine are presented as contributors to the situation. The complexity of care relationships is viewed as playing a role in how appropriate treatment for patients is determined. The authors believe that the more players involved with the decision-making process, the more opportunities for dysfunction arise. They close by presenting ideas for minimizing iatrogenic illness, with the caveat that it can never be removed completely due to the humanness of the process of medicine.
Merry A, Brookbanks W. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2017. ISBN: 9781107180499
Merry, a New Zealand anesthesiologist, and Smith, a legal educator and a popular writer, explore the nature of medical errors. The authors suggest that most errors are due to systems factors, not moral lapses, and thus the tort system, which focuses on assigning individual blame, is an imperfect tool for dealing with these errors. The authors also summarize situations in which blame is appropriate and present concepts to help the reader discern the difference. This book will help readers understand the nature of medical error and the role of the legal system in patient safety.
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