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.
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.
Redley B, Bucknall TK, Evans S, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2016;28:573-579.
Efforts to improve the safety of handoffs have focused on standardizing the signout process. In this mixed methods study, researchers observed 185 anesthetist-to-nurse handoffs from the operating room to the postanesthesia care unit across 3 hospitals. They then conducted focus groups to better understand aspects of safe handoff practices. This work led to the development of a more standardized handoff structure.
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.
Although recommended as a patient safety improvement strategy, the value of root cause analysis has been debated. This commentary suggests a three-step approach for optimizing root cause analysis results to detect factors that contribute to adverse events. The author applies philosophical principles to identify and prioritize interventions to enhance benefit from root cause analysis.
Dawson S, King L, Grantham H. Emerg Med Australas. 2015;25:393-405.
Handoffs between care settings can lead to adverse events. This literature review analyzed 17 studies of handoffs between prehospital first responders and emergency department (ED) staff. Safety gaps detected included communication barriers, lack of a structured communication tool, and unclear identification of the receiving clinical staff. The authors suggest that a structured handoff tool could improve first responder–ED handoffs. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed communication failures between providers and highlighted a need for standard handoff protocols.
Callen JL, Westbrook JI, Georgiou A, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2011;27:1334-1348.
Following up test results in a timely fashion is a recognized patient safety problem in primary care, and inadequate follow-up systems are a source of frustration for outpatient clinicians and a relatively common source of malpractice claims. This systematic review found evidence that failure to act on abnormal radiology or laboratory results is common and clearly linked to missed or delayed diagnoses. The review also found wide variation in processes for handling test results across studies. Electronic health records (EHRs) did appear to improve test follow-up rates, although a substantial proportion of abnormal results were not followed up even with EHRs. The authors advocate for more standardized processes for informing patients of abnormal results, and recent guidelines have been published for organizational policies to improve test result communication.
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.
Intern J Health Care Qual Assur. 2007;20(7):555-632.
This special issue includes articles by authors from Australia, Israel, France, Iran, and Belgium that explore ideas such as building a culture of safety, replacing medical equipment, and measuring safety improvements.
Gillman L, Leslie G, Williams T, et al. Emerg Med J. 2006;23:858-61.
This study evaluated nearly 300 adverse events that occurred during intrahospital transport, noting that equipment problems and hypothermia were the most common. Investigators combined 6 months of prospective observation with retrospective chart review to characterize the type and nature of events recorded for patients admitted to the intensive care unit from the emergency department. While the overall rates were lower than reported in past research, the authors advocate for using their findings as benchmarks: an adverse event rate of 22 of 100 transfers and 38 of 100 delays in transfer. A case commentary on Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) WebM&M discusses the issue of intrahospital transport with suggestions for improving the safety of this poorly studied process.
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