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This case describes a 20-year-old woman was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and occlusive thrombus in the right brachial vein surrounding a  peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line (type, gauge, and length of time the PICC had been in place were not noted). The patient was discharged home but was not given any supplies for cleaning the PICC line, education regarding the signs of PICC line infection, or referral to home health services.

A 49-year-old woman was referred by per primary care physician (PCP) to a gastroenterologist for recurrent bouts of abdominal pain, occasional vomiting, and diarrhea. Colonoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and x-rays were interpreted as normal, and the patient was reassured that her symptoms should abate. The patient was seen by her PCP and visited the Emergency Department (ED) several times over the next six months. At each ED visit, the patient’s labs were normal and no imaging was performed.

After a breast mass was identified by a physician assistant during a routine visit, a 60-year-old woman received a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The radiology assessment was challenging due to dense breast tissue and ultimately interpreted as “probably benign” findings. When the patient returned for follow-up 5 months later, the mass had increased in size and she was referred for a biopsy.

Referred to urology for a 5-year history of progressive urinary frequency, nocturnal urination, and difficulty initiating a stream, a man had been reluctant to seek care for his symptoms because his father had a "miserable" experience with treatment for the same condition. A physician assistant saw him at that first visit and ordered a PSA test (despite the patient's expressed views against PSA testing) and cystoscopy (without explaining why it was needed), and urged the patient to self-catheterize (without any instructions on how to do so).
Dodge LE, Nippita S, Hacker MR, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2019;38:44-54.
This pre–post study examined the implementation of AHRQ's TeamSTEPPS training program. Investigators found that the intervention had positive effects on staff ratings of teamwork and patient satisfaction, and these improvements persisted for one year.
Schwarz CM, Hoffmann M, Schwarz P, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2019;19:158.
Care transitions represent a vulnerable time for patients, especially at the time of hospital discharge. In this systematic review, researchers identified several factors related to discharge summaries that may adversely impact the safety of discharged patients, including delays in sending discharge summaries to outpatient providers as well as missing or low-quality information.
Cheong V-L, Tomlinson J, Khan S, Petty D. Prescriber. 2019;30:29-34.
Geriatric patients are particularly vulnerable to medication-related harm. This article summarizes types of incidents and contributing factors to adverse drug events in older patients after hospital discharge. The authors recommend strategies to reduce medication-related harm, including discharge communication improvements, primary care collaboration, and postdischarge patient education.
Molloy MA, Cary MP, Brennan-Cook J, et al. Home Healthc Now. 2018;36:225-231.
Patient utilization of home care is expected to increase with advances in medical care and health technologies. This commentary presents simulation as a promising tool to develop and assess home care staff skills to improve transitions from acute care to home health care.
After a motor vehicle collision, a patient with headaches and difficulty concentrating visited the internal medicine clinic. The covering resident diagnosed postconcussive syndrome and prescribed amitriptyline. The patient returned several days later with persistent symptoms. She saw a different resident, who ordered an MRI and referred her to neurology but mistakenly made the referral to the neuromuscular, rather than headache, clinic. With continued severe headaches, the patient returned a third time and saw her primary resident provider, who referred her to the correct neurology clinic.
Darrah NJ, O'Connor NR. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016;51:959-962.e2.
Hospice providers often lack access to patient records, which can hinder patient transitions in this setting. This project report outlines an effort to develop curriculum associated with hospital-to-hospice handoffs to enhance transition practices and communication needs unique to palliative care.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2016. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0035-2-EF.
Patient safety in ambulatory care is receiving increased attention. This guide includes case studies that explore how Open Notes, team-based care delivery, and patient and family advisory committees have shown promise as patient engagement and safety improvement mechanisms in primary care settings.
A healthy elderly man presented to his primary care doctor—a third-year internal medicine resident—for routine examination. A PSA test was markedly elevated, but the results came back after the resident had graduated, and the alert went unread. Months later, the patient presented with new onset low back pain and was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.
London, UK: Care Quality Commission; October 2009. CQC-039-500-ESP-102009. ISBN: 9781845622442.
This report analyzed how medication information is shared among UK practices and patients after a hospital stay and found that 81% of general practices thought that patient information given to them from hospitals was incomplete or inaccurate.
Dean Schillinger, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Chief of the California Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. His role as a practicing clinician at a safety net hospital (San Francisco General Hospital) has put him in a unique position to pursue influential and relevant research related to health literacy and improving care for vulnerable populations.
Boling PA. Clin Geriatr Med. 2009;25:135-48, viii.
This article reviews the literature on transitions of care, discusses interventions, and suggests that transitional care processes supported by effective home care programs can reduce rehospitalization.
Loren DJ, Klein EJ, Garbutt J, et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162:922-927.
Studies of medical error disclosure have demonstrated that, while physicians support disclosure of errors in theory, most "choose their words carefully" in practice and fail to disclose important elements of the error. In this study, pediatricians were presented with error scenarios and asked to describe what they would disclose to the child's parents. Overall, a minority of physicians would fully disclose the error, and most would not offer an explicit apology. An accompanying editorial discusses barriers to disclosing errors and strategies (including communication training) that should be implemented to improve this aspect of patient–physician communication.
An elderly, non–English-speaking man with diabetes was admitted to the hospital twice in 8 days due to hypoglycemia. At discharge, the patient was instructed not to take any antidiabetic medications. In between hospitalizations, he saw his primary care physician, who restarted an antidiabetic medication.