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Gallagher R, Passmore MJ, Baldwin C. Med Hypotheses. 2020;142:109727.
The authors of this article suggest that offering palliative care services earlier should be considered a patient safety issue. They highlight three cases in which patients in Canada requested medical assistance in dying (MAiD). The patients in two of the cases were never offered palliative care services, and this could be considered a medical error – had they been offered palliative care services, they may have changed their mind about MAiD, as did the patient in the third case study.
Sasso L, Bagnasco A, Aleo G, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:929-932.
Multiple factors in the hospital environment influence the incidence of missed nursing care. This commentary describes strategies to address these errors of omission, including changing mental models to recognize the financial benefit of increasing staffing levels to improve patient safety.
Washington, DC: United States Government Accountability Office; January 5, 2016. Publication GAO-16-158.
The Veterans Health Administration faces various challenges to providing safe care, including poor continuity during transitions to different locations which can result in inappropriate discontinuation of medications that patients require. This government report discuses efforts to reduce gaps in medication access and suggests developing clear policies to prevent patient harm in this population.
Foy R, Hempel S, Rubenstein L, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152:247-58.
This meta-analysis found that interactive communication between collaborating primary care providers and specialists (psychiatrists and endocrinologists in this study) is associated with improved patient outcomes. The interactive communication methods included joint consultations, scheduled phone discussions, and shared documentation, with the authors suggesting a need for changes in reimbursement models to support such interventions.
Thomas J. Nasca, MD, is the executive director and chief executive officer of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Prior to joining the ACGME in 2007, Dr. Nasca, a nephrologist, was dean of Jefferson Medical College and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of Thomas Jefferson University. We asked him to speak with us about the role of the ACGME in patient safety.
Eager to have his knee replaced, an active older patient travels overseas for the surgery. At home 2 weeks later, he develops acute pain and swelling in his knee. A local orthopedic surgeon's office tells him to contact his operating physician, nearly 5000 miles away.
Cheung DS, Kelly JJ, Beach C, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2010;55:171-80.
Reviewing the conceptual framework for handoffs in emergency departments, this article analyzes obstacles and potential errors, discusses models for effective patient transitions, and provides strategies for enhancing handoffs and measuring outcomes.
Sixth Report of Session 2008–09. House of Commons Health Committee. London, England: The Stationery Office; July 3, 2009. Publication HC 151-I.
This government report analyzes the National Health Service's efforts to enhance patient safety and recommends improving certain areas, such as adopting technology, analyzing failure, and ensuring both practitioner education and adequate staffing.
Tjia J, Bonner A, Briesacher BA, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2009;24:630-5.
Patients transferred from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are vulnerable to medication errors, as they are often elderly, have multiple chronic illnesses, and take multiple medications. In this study, medication discrepancies (among the hospital discharge summary, SNF referral form, and SNF admission orders) were the rule rather than the exception. Most concerning, many discrepancies involved high-risk medications such as opioid analgesics, anticoagulants, and hypoglycemic agents, which have been linked to serious medication errors in elderly patients. While The Joint Commission has mandated medication reconciliation for long-term care facilities as part of the 2009 National Patient Safety Goals, the authors note that many SNFs do not maintain Joint Commission accreditation, implying that state or national regulations may be needed to improve medication safety across the hospital–SNF transition.
Dean Schillinger, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Chief of the California Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. His role as a practicing clinician at a safety net hospital (San Francisco General Hospital) has put him in a unique position to pursue influential and relevant research related to health literacy and improving care for vulnerable populations.
Interrupted during a telephone handoff, an ED physician, despite limited information, must treat a patient in respiratory arrest. The patient is stabilized and transferred to the ICU with a presumed diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia and septic shock. Later, ICU physicians obtain further history that leads to the correct diagnosis: pulmonary embolism.