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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. 

Farrell C‐JL, Giannoutsos J. Int J Lab Hematol. 2022;44:497-503.
Wrong blood in tube (WBIT) errors can result in serious diagnostic and treatment errors, but may go unrecognized by clinical staff. In this study, machine learning was used to identify potential WBIT errors which were then compared to manual review by laboratory staff. The machine learning models showed higher accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity compared to manual review. 
Erkelens DC, Rutten FH, Wouters LT, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:40-45.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment during after-hours care pose serious threats to patient safety. This case-control study compared missed acute coronary syndrome (ACS) cases to other cases with chest discomfort occurring during out-of-hours services in primary care. Predictors of missed ACS included the use of cardiovascular medication, non-retrosternal chest pain, and consultation of the supervising general practitioner.   
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).  
Dadlez NM, Adelman J, Bundy DG, et al. Ped Qual Saf. 2020;5:e299-e305.
Diagnostic errors, including missed diagnoses of adolescent depression, elevated blood pressure, and delayed response to abnormal lab results, are common in pediatric primary care. Building upon previous work, this study used root cause analyses to identify the failure points and contributing factors to these errors. Omitted process steps included failure to screen for adolescent depression, failure to recognize and act on abnormal blood pressure values, and failure to notify families of abnormal lab results. Factors contributing most commonly to these errors were patient volume, inadequate staffing, clinic environment, electronic and written communication, and provider knowledge.
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.
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.

Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37(11):1723-1908.

The Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, marked the founding of the patient safety field. This special issue of Health Affairs, published 20 years after that report, highlights achievements and progress to date. One implementation study of evidence-based surgical safety checklists demonstrated that leadership involvement, intensive activities, and engagement of frontline staff are all critical to successful adoption of safety practices. Another study demonstrated that communication-and-resolution programs either decreased or did not affect malpractice costs, providing further support for implementing such programs. Experts describe the critical role of human factors engineering in patient safety and outline how to enhance the use of these methods. The concluding editorial by David Bates and Hardeep Singh points to progress in reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving medication safety in acute care settings and highlights remaining gaps in the areas of outpatient care, diagnostic errors, and electronic health record safety. In the related information, the Moore Foundation provides free access to five articles in this special issue.
Russo E, Sittig DF, Murphy DR, et al. Healthc (Amst). 2016;4:285-290.
Using a case study on missed and delayed follow-up of test results, this commentary explores challenges and opportunities that data from electronic health records present for patient safety research. Key barriers to utilizing electronic health record data to inform improvement work include restricted access to data, difficulty interpreting data, and workforce issues.
Bowie P, Price J, Hepworth N, et al. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e008968.
This retrospective study of abnormal laboratory test orders and results in primary care uncovered multiple vulnerabilities, similar to prior studies. The authors describe a conceptual model to comprehensively address the safety of laboratory testing and results management in primary care, a useful step for future interventions.
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. 2010;13(Spec No):1-136.  

This is the fifth in a series of special issues devoted to exploring Canadian patient safety organizational and strategic improvement efforts. The articles highlight work related to topics including critical occurrence review, hand hygiene compliance, and effective handoffs.
An elderly woman presented to the emergency department following a hip fracture. Although the patient's medication bottles were used to generate a medication list, one of the dosages was transcribed incorrectly. Because the patient then received four times her regular dose, her surgery was delayed due to cardiac side effects.
Adlassnig KP, Blobel B, Mantas J, Masic I, eds. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;150:497-566. In: Medical Informatics in a United and Healthy Europe. Washington, DC: IOS Press. ISBN: 9781607500445.
Part of a comprehensive electronic compilation on medical informatics, this series of papers examines topics surrounding the use of health information technology (HIT) to detect, report, and learn from adverse events.

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.