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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.
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.
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.
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.
Dolejs SC, Janowak CF, Zarzaur BL. Am Surg. 2017;83:780-785.
Despite the widespread adoption of health information technology, medication errors remain a significant source of patient harm. This study found that medication errors in trauma patients were more common among those who were severely injured and who remained in the hospital for a longer amount of time.
Gardner LA. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. 2016;13:58-65.
Insufficient health literacy is a known patient safety hazard. This article reviews incidents submitted to a state reporting initiative where insufficient patient understanding may have played a role in delayed or missed care and describes a program to encourage adoption of teach-back and other strategies to help patients better comprehend their health care instructions. A past PSNet perspective discussed the role of health literacy in patient safety.
Lyndon A, Johnson C, Bingham D, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;125:1049-55.
Poor communication among perinatal health care teams has been highlighted as a safety concern. Exploring human factors, leadership behaviors, and root causes that may contribute to miscommunication, this commentary recommends ways individual clinicians, team leaders, managers, organizations, and patients and their families can enhance safety in the labor and delivery setting.
Francis R. London, UK: Department of Health; February 2015.
Staff willingness to raise awareness of problems that could affect patient care is an important indicator of safety culture. This publication explores National Health Service (NHS) staff perceptions regarding raising concerns about health care safety. Barriers to speaking up were related to organizational culture, incident management, and legal protection for whistleblowers. The report also suggests measures for NHS organizations to use to help ensure that staff are comfortable raising awareness of patient safety concerns.
Andersen HB, Siemsen IMD, Petersen LF, et al. Cognition, Technology & Work. 2014;17.
Patient handoffs are a common source of adverse events, often due to communication failures, particularly for tests that are pending at discharge. This research group used incident reports, interviews, and root cause analysis reports to create and validate a taxonomy for classifying adverse events related to patient handovers.
Patterson ME, Bogart MS, Starr KR. J Hosp Med. 2015;10:152-159.
Production pressure—the pressure to continue work at maximum capacity—is a known threat to patient safety. This study analyzed the effect of production pressures by examining the relationship between two components of safety culture. Using data from the 2010 AHRQ Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, the investigators found that respondents at hospitals that worked in crisis mode more frequently also were more likely to perceive care transitions as unsafe. As emergency department overcrowding has also been linked to safety issues, the results of this study argue for efforts to manage bed capacity and patient flow as a patient safety strategy. A recent AHRQ WebM&M commentary explores how communication breakdowns and production pressure can cause adverse outcomes and highlights how checklists can help prevent mistakes.
Devlin MK, Kozij NK, Kiss A, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:1479-85.
The safety of the signout process has been improved through research into standardized signout techniques, which focus on improving the quality of information transfer when the primary clinician is leaving the hospital in the evening. Comparatively less attention has been paid to the morning signout process, when the primary clinician resumes care of the patient. This cross-sectional study conducted at two academic medical centers in Toronto found that the morning signout is also error-prone. Covering physicians frequently failed to inform primary clinicians about important clinical issues that arose overnight and also did not document these events in the medical record. This study—as well as others demonstrating that cross-covering clinicians often fail to engage in active listening behavior—illustrates the role of shared responsibility between the primary and covering physicians in the signout process. A related editorial discusses the increased prevalence of handovers as a consequence of resident duty hour regulations and the resultant consequences on the quality of patient care.