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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. 

Buitrago I, Seidl KL, Gingold DB, et al. J Healthc Qual. 2022;44:169-177.
Reducing hospital 30-day readmissions is seen as a way to improve safety and reduce costs. Baltimore City mobile integrated health and community paramedicine (MIH-CP) was designed to improve transitional care from hospital to home. After one year in operation, MIH-CP performed a chart review to determine causes of readmission among patients in the program. Root cause analysis indicated that at least one social determinant of health (e.g., health literacy) played a role in preventable readmissions; the program was modified to improve transitional care.

Järvinen TLN, Rickert J, Lee MJ. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2013-2022.

This quarterly commentary explores a wide range of subjects associated with patient safety, such as the impact of disruptive behavior on teams, the value of apologies, and safety challenges due to COVID-19. Older materials are available online for free.
Krishnan S, Wheeler KK, Pimentel MP, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2022;41:25-29.
Incident reporting systems are used to detect patient safety concerns and determine potential causes and opportunities for improvements. In the perioperative setting of one hospital, insufficient handoffs were the most common event type in the “coordination of care” category. Use of structured handoffs is recommended to improve communication and patient safety.
Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
Shaw J, Bastawrous M, Burns S, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:30-35.
Patients who have fallen in their homes and are found by a home healthcare worker are referred to as “found-on-floor” incidents. This study found that length of stay was a key theme in found-on-floor incidents and signaled underlying system-level issues, such as lack of informational continuity across the continuum of care (e.g., lack of standard documentation across settings, unclear messaging regarding clients’ home care needs), reliance on home healthcare workers instead of rehabilitation professionals, and lack of fall assessment follow-up. The authors recommend systems-level changes to improve fall prevention practices, such as use of electronic health records across the continuum of care and enhanced accountability in home safety.  
Ricci-Cabello I, Gangannagaripalli J, Mounce LTA, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e20-e27.
Patient safety in primary care is an emerging focus. This cross-sectional study across primary care clinics in England explored the main factors contributing to patient-reported harm experiences. Factors included incidents related to communication, care coordination, and incorrect or delayed; diagnosis and/or treatment.
Lam BD, Bourgeois FC, Dong ZJ, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:685-694.
Providing patients access to their medical records can improve patient engagement and error identification. A survey of patients and families found that about half of adult patients and pediatric families who perceived a serious mistake in their ambulatory care notes reported it, but identified several barriers to reporting (e.g. no clear reporting mechanism, lack of perceived support).  
Leuridan G. Safety Sci. 2020;129:104839.
The author defines ‘work debate spaces’ as organizational spaces that serve as a vehicle for organizational learning, practice changes, and performance improvement. This article discusses the role of formal and informal ‘work debate spaces’ in establishing a culture of safety in critical care settings. Examples of formal and informal spaces include mortality and morbidity (M&M) meetings (formal) and handoffs between shifts (informal).
Gunnar W, Soncrant C, Lynn MM, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16:255-258.
Retained surgical items (RSI) are considered ‘never events’ but continue to occur. In this study, researchers compared the RSI rate in Veterans Health (VA) surgery programs with (n=46) and without (n=91) surgical count technology and analyzed the resulting root cause analyses (RCA) for these events. The RSI rate was significantly higher in for the programs with surgical count technology compared to the programs without (1/18,221 vs. 1/30,593). Analysis of RCAs found the majority of incidents (64%) involved human factors issues (e.g., staffing changes during shifts, staff fatigue), policy/procedure failures (e.g., failure to perform methodical wound sweep) or communication errors.
Soncrant C, Mills PD, Neily J, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16:41-46.
In this retrospective review of root cause analysis (RCA) reports of select gastrointestinal procedures, researchers identified 27 adverse events 30-month period. Nearly half (48%) of events caused major or catastrophic harm. The most frequently reported adverse events were attributable to human factors (22%), medication errors (22%) or retained items; retained items were associated with the most harm.
Meisenberg B, Zaidi S, Franks L, et al. J Hosp Med. 2019;14:716-718.
Advanced Directives (AD) and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Therapy (POLST) are intended to improve end-of-life care by ensuring that patient's wishes are honored by health care providers. This perspective presents two cases in which preventable errors allowed for the use of unwanted life-sustaining therapies. Root cause analyses for these cases found that haste, inadequate communication, EMR discrepancies, knowledge deficits contributed to these errors. 
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.
Nakhleh RE, Volmar KE, eds. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature; 2019. ISBN: 9783030184636.
Surgical specimen and laboratory process problems can affect diagnosis. This publication examines factors that contribute to errors across the surgical pathology process and reviews strategies to reduce their impact on care. Chapters discuss areas of focus to encourage process improvement and error response, such as information technology, specimen tracking, root cause analysis, and disclosure.
Orenstein EW, Ferro DF, Bonafide CP, et al. JAMIA Open. 2019;2(3):392-398.
Handoffs represent a vulnerable time for patients when lapses in communication may adversely impact safety. Prior research has shown that medication errors occur frequently among patients transferred from ICU to non-ICU locations within the same hospital. In this qualitative study, physicians reviewed transfer notes and handoff documents for 50 patients transferred from a pediatric ICU to a medical unit. They found clinically relevant differences between the handoff and transfer note documentation in 42% of the transfers and conclude that such discrepancies are both common and place patient safety at risk. A previous WebM&M commentary described an adverse event related to a patient handoff.
Umberfield E, Ghaferi AA, Krein SL, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019;45:406-413.
Communication failures are a common underlying factor in adverse events. Although the relationship between communication failures and safety has been best studied in the operating room, this issue likely contributes to safety problems in all settings of care. Investigators examined incident reports at an academic medical center to characterize how communication problems contribute to adverse events. Errors of purpose—a type of error in which the goals of the communication event remain unresolved, implying that situational awareness was not achieved—were among the most common types of communication problems identified. The authors point out that while structured communication tools (such as the I-PASS handoff tool) can improve the accuracy and completeness of information transfer, they are not well suited to improving communication in clinically ambiguous situations. Communication problems most often led to delays in care without physical harm, highlighting the difficulty of measuring communication issues compared to other types of safety events. A WebM&M commentary discussed a series of communication errors that led to a child's death.
Guttman OT, Lazzara EH, Keebler JR, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e1465-e1471.
Communication errors in health care are a persistent challenge to patient safety. This commentary advocates for studying behavioral, cognitive, linguistic, environmental, and technological factors to help understand barriers to effective information exchange in health care. The authors suggest that approaches targeting each set of barriers be developed and embedded into learning activities to generate lasting improvements.
Ai A, Desai S, Shellman A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018;44:674-682.
This study examined ambulatory follow-up of test results by aggregating multiple types of data—national surveys on safety culture and patient satisfaction; patient complaints; safety reports; and electronic health record audits of provider response times. Researchers found an association between quicker response time for test results and higher patient satisfaction. They conclude that merging these disparate data sources can uncover new levers to improve patient safety.
Hospitalized with sepsis secondary to an infected IV line through which she was receiving treprostnil (a high-alert medication used to treat pulmonary hypertension), a woman was transferred to interventional radiology for placement of a new permanent catheter once the infection cleared. Sign-off between departments included a warning not to flush the line since it would lead to a dangerous overdose. However, while attempting to identify an infusion pump alarm, a radiology technician accidentally flushed the line, which led to a near code situation.