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.
Holmes J, Chipman M, Barbour T, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:12-24.
Air medical transport carries unique patient safety risks. In this study, researchers used simulation training and healthcare failure mode and effect analysis (HFMEA) to identify latent safety threats related to patient transport via helicopter. This approach identified 31 latent safety threats (18 were deemed critical) related to care coordination, facilities, equipment, and devices.
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.
Lurvey LD, Fassett MJ, Kanter MH. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:288-295.
High reliability organizations encourage staff to self-report errors and hazards for comprehensive review and improvement. Three hospitals in one health system implemented a voluntary error reporting system for clinicians to report their own and others’ clinical errors. Although only 5% of reported errors were physician self-reports, there were still benefits: it captured novel errors, provided a safe space to report those errors, and encouraged secondary insights into causes of the errors.
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).
Lindblad M, Unbeck M, Nilsson L, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20:289.
This study used a trigger tool to retrospectively identify and characterize no-harm incidents affecting adult patients in home healthcare settings in Sweden. The most common incidents identified by the trigger tool were falls without injury, medication management incidents, and moderate pain. Common contributing factors included delayed, erroneous, or incomplete nursing care and treatment.
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.
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.
Scott J, Dawson P, Heavey E, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e1744-e1758.
This study reviewed incident reports involving older adult patient transitions in geriatrics, cardiology, orthopedics and stroke to identify the types of transitions involved and whether reports included any evidence of individual or organizational learning. Half of all incident reports involved interunit/department/team transfers and the majority (69%) of incidents were related to pressure injuries, falls, medication, and documentation errors. Few incident reports referenced individual or organizational learning (e.g., team discussions, root cause analysis) to inform practice or policy changes. A prior WebM&M describes a medication error occurring during an intrahospital transfer between the ICU and interventional radiology.
Williams S, Fiumara K, Kachalia A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2020;46:44-50.
A lack of closed-loop feedback systems has been identified as one contributor to underreporting of patient safety events. This paper describes one large academic medical center’s implementation of a Feedback to Reporter program in ambulatory care, which aimed to ensure feedback on safety reports is provided to reporting staff by managers. At baseline, 50% of staff who requested feedback ultimately received it; after three years, the rate of feedback to reporters had increased to 90%.
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.
Arbaje AI, Hughes A, Werner N, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:111-120.
Patients are at risk for adverse events after they transition from hospital to home. This direct observation and interview study identified significant concerns related to care transitions from hospital to home health care among patients discharged from the hospital. The study team found instances of missing and erroneous information. Information also had to be gleaned from multiple sources, and too much information could cause confusion and interfere with home health care. The authors recommend redesigning the care transition process from hospital to home health care providers in order to promote safety.
Lake ET, de Cordova PB, Barton S, et al. Hosp Pediatr. 2017;7:378-384.
Missed nursing care is common and has been linked to adverse events. This survey found that more than half of pediatric intensive care unit nurses reported missing care during their prior shift. Higher patient loads and poor working environments were associated with more episodes of missed care, corroborating prior research.
van Galen LS, Struik PW, Driesen BEJM, et al. PLoS One. 2016;11:e0161393.
Unplanned transfers of hospitalized patients to the intensive care unit are often considered a safety issue. This root cause analysis of consecutive unplanned intensive care unit admissions found that the most frequent cause was insufficient patient monitoring by nurses. In many cases, vital signs were not monitored as specified by treating physicians.
Mardis T, Mardis M, Davis J, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2016;31:54-60.
Incomplete handoffs and poor communication regarding key clinical information may lead to adverse events. According to this systematic review, current research on bedside nursing handoffs suggests this method (conducting handoffs at the patient's bedside, instead of in a conference room or nurses' station) can improve patient and staff satisfaction, but evidence regarding its effect on patient safety is largely lacking.
Castner J, Dean-Baar S. J Nurs Manag. 2014;22:421-437.
Missed nursing care is recognized as an emerging patient safety issue. This study evaluated the validity and reliability of a standardized survey instrument used to detect missed nursing care and found the tool performed acceptably when used in a variety of clinical settings.
This study surveyed nurses in neonatal intensive care units about missed nursing care. As in other care settings, missed nursing care is significant, and reasons include interruptions, urgent patient situations, and increases in patient volume. This finding underscores the need to enhance nursing workflow to prevent errors of omission.
Jones TL, Hamilton P, Murry N. Int J Nurs Stud. 2015;52:1121-1137.
This review found that missed nursing care is common and appears to be associated with decreased patient satisfaction and higher rates of adverse events. Predictors of missed nursing care include poor safety culture and increased nursing workload.
Carthon MB, Lasater KB, Sloane DM, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2015;24:255-263.
Hospital readmissions are an increasing focus of patient safety efforts, due to Medicare's payment policy. This cross-sectional study sought to assess the link between working environments for nurses and readmissions. Suboptimal working conditions for nurses have been associated with poor patient outcomes. One proposed mechanism to explain this relationship is missed nursing care. Researchers found that hospitals with worse ratings of nurses' work environment and more frequent reports of missed care also had higher readmissions for heart failure. Although this study does not ascertain whether the working conditions or missed care caused the readmissions, the authors suggest that prospective studies looking at missed nursing care and subsequent readmissions are warranted. A recent AHRQ WebM&M perspective discusses the nursing workforce and patient safety.
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