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.
Raghuram N, Alodan K, Bartels U, et al. Virchows Archiv. 2021;478:1179-1185.
Autopsies are an important tool for identifying diagnostic errors. This retrospective study of 821 pediatric cancer deaths found that 10% had a major diagnostic discrepancy between antemortem and postmortem diagnoses. These discrepancies primarily consisted of missed infections, missed cancer diagnoses, and organ complications.
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.
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.
Sundwall DN, Munger MA, Tak CR, et al. Health Equity. 2020;4:430-437.
This study surveyed 9,206 adults across the United States about their perceptions of medical errors occurring in ambulatory care settings. Thirty-six percent of respondents perceived that their doctor has ever made a mistake, provided an incorrect diagnosis, or given an incorrect (or delayed) treatment. According to these findings, patient-perceived medical errors and harms occurred most commonly in women and those in poor health with comorbid conditions.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
Past studies have explored the impact of nurse and clinician workload on the quality of care. In this study, researchers examined how general practitioners and administrative staff across eight United Kingdom practices work together to fill prescription requests and manage test results.
Grant S, Checkland K, Bowie P, et al. Implement Sci. 2017;12:56.
Test result management is a critical aspect of ambulatory patient safety. This direct observation study identified highly variable strategies across outpatient practices with different vulnerabilities. These results underscore the need to develop interventions to enhance management of test results.
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.
Williams H, Edwards A, Hibbert P, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2015;65:e829-e837.
Adverse events after hospital discharge are common, affecting nearly 20% of patients within 3 weeks of discharge. This study used data from the United Kingdom's National Reporting and Learning System to analyze the contributors to these adverse events. Principal contributing factors included inadequate discharge communication between hospital-based and outpatient physicians and insufficient assessment of patients' need for community-based services.
Gillies D, Chicop D, O'Halloran P. Crisis. 2015;36:316-324.
This study used root cause analysis to identify underlying causes of suicide among mental health service clients. Researchers found that most patients had denied suicidal ideation and had missed follow-up in their mental health care. Their results underscore the challenge of preventing suicide in patients with mental illness.
Kumar P, Biswas A, Iyengar H, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2015;41:228-233.
Interviews with mothers were compared with maternal prenatal histories and infant medical records in this study, revealing that a majority of patients had at least one information gap in which pertinent data was not recorded in the medical record. While such incomplete information has been documented previously, these errors of omission raise concern for adverse events and demonstrate the need for new strategies.
Mixon AS, Myers AP, Leak CL, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89:1042-51.
Postdischarge medication errors occurred in nearly half of patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndromes or congestive heart failure, with errors more likely to occur in patients with limited health literacy or numeracy.
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