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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. 

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.
Rogith D, Satterly T, Singh H, et al. Appl Clin Inform. 2020;11:692-698.
Lack of timely follow-up of test results is a recognized patient safety problem in primary care and can lead to missed or delayed diagnoses. This study used human factors methods to understand lack of timely follow-up of abnormal test results in outpatient settings. Through interviews with the ordering physicians, the researchers identified several contributing factors, such as provider-patient communication channel mismatch and diffusion of responsibility.
Kalánková D, Kirwan M, Bartoníčková D, et al. J Nurs Manag. 2020;28:1783-1797.
This scoping review assessed 44 studies to describe the scope of the evidence of the impact of missed, rationed and unfinished nursing care on patient-related outcomes; 9 of these studies focused on the impact on patient safety outcomes. The review concludes that medication errors as the biggest threat to patient safety resulting from missed, rationed or unfinished care, and that falls (with or without injury) and hospital-acquired infections are the most common resulting adverse events. These adverse events are attributed to the omission of preventive nursing care activities, such as handwashing, patient education and maintaining a safe environment.
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.
Desai S, Fiumara K, Kachalia A. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e84-e90.
Outpatient safety is gaining recognition as a focus of research and improvement efforts. This project report describes an ambulatory safety program at an academic health system that targeted reporting, safety culture measurement, medication safety, and test result management. Repeated tracking over a 5-year period revealed that failure to request feedback played a role in the modest incident and concern reporting captured by the program. Decentralizing reporting response responsibilities throughout the system significantly increased feedback activity.
Cullen A. Uitgeverij van Brug: The Hague, The Netherlands; 2019. ISBN: 9789065232236.
Patient stories offer important insights regarding the impact medical errors have on patients and their families. This book shares the author's experience with medical error and spotlights how lack of transparency in European health care can contribute to avoidable process failures that result in patient harm.
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.

Brice JH, Patterson PD, eds. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2012;16:1-108.  

This special issue contains articles exploring safety improvement efforts in emergency medical services.
Callen J, Georgiou A, Li J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20:194-199.
Adverse events after hospital discharge are a growing driver for safety interventions, including a focus on readmissions, adverse drug events, and hospital-acquired infections. Another safety area ripe for intervention is managing test results after hospital discharge. This systematic review analyzed 12 studies and found wide variation in rates of test follow-up and related management systems. Critical test results and results for patients moving across health care settings were highlighted as particularly concerning areas that could be addressed with better clinical information systems. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed a case where a patient was incorrectly treated based on failure to follow up a urine culture after hospital discharge.

Baker GR, ed. Healthc Q. 2009;12(Spec No Patient):1-198.  

This special issue discusses Canadian patient safety efforts in identifying risks, designing safe systems, implementing solutions, developing learning systems, and understanding legal decision making.
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.
Rosen AK, Loveland SA, Romano PS, et al. Med Care. 2009;47:723-31.
This study adds to a growing body of data demonstrating that duty hours reforms have not adversely affected clinical outcomes or patient safety. The authors compared patient safety events (as measured by the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators) before and after reduction of resident duty hours and found no significant change in surgical or procedural adverse events. Prior studies found no changes in mortality rates, self-reported errors, or trainee case volume after implementation of duty hours regulations, but other studies have shown reduced satisfaction with education and concerns about worsened continuity of care. Recent Institute of Medicine recommendations on residency work hours emphasized the need to maintain a balance between educational objectives and patient safety.
Following surgery, a woman on a patient-controlled analgesia pump is found to be lethargic and incoherent, with a low respiratory rate. The nurse contacted the attending physician, who dismisses the patient's symptoms and chastises the nurse for the late call.
Wahls TL, Cram PM. BMC Fam Pract. 2007;8:32.
Failure to properly follow up on tests has been associated with missed diagnoses in the ambulatory setting. This survey evaluated the extent to which faulty systems limit a physician's ability to follow up after tests have been ordered. Even though the physicians worked within the highly computerized and integrated Veterans Affairs system, nearly one-third reported a clinically significant delay in establishing a diagnosis for a patient due to missed or delayed test results. In general, clinicians did not have a systematized method for following up on results (whether normal or abnormal), as has been documented in prior research, and the authors note that active systems for ensuring appropriate follow-up are needed even when an electronic medical record is present.