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Lo L, Rotteau L, Shojania KG. BMJ Open. 2021;11(12):e055247.
Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) is a mnemonic technique used to avoid communication failures during handoffs. This systematic review found that fidelity with SBAR is highest in classroom settings, but that studies in clinical contexts either did not achieve sufficient improvements in fidelity or did not assess fidelity.
Cam H, Kempen TGH, Eriksson H, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2021;21(7):618.
Poor communication between hospital and primary care providers can lead to adverse events, such as hospital readmission. In this study of older adults who required medication-related follow-up with their primary care provider, the discharging provider only sent an adequate request for 60% of patients. Of those patients that did not have an adequate request, 14% had a related hospital revisit within 6 months.
Malevanchik L, Wheeler M, Gagliardi K, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47(12):775-782.
Communication in healthcare is essential but can be complicated, particularly when there are language barriers between providers and patients. This study evaluated a hospital-wide care transitions program, with a goal of universal contact with discharged patients to identify and address care transition problems. Researchers found that the program reached most patients regardless of English proficiency, but that patients with limited English proficiency experienced more post-discharge issues, such as difficulty understanding discharge instructions, medication concerns and follow-up questions, and new or worsening symptoms.
Galatzan BJ, Carrington JM. Res Nurs Health. 2021;44(5):833-843.
During handoffs, nurses are exposed to a variety of interruptions and distractions which may lead to cognitive overload. Using natural language processing, researchers analyzed ten audio-recorded change of shift handoffs to estimate the cognitive load experienced by nurses. Nurses’ use of concise language has the potential to decrease cognitive overload and improve patient outcomes.
Burden AR, Potestio C, Pukenas E. Adv Anesth. 2021;39:133-148.
Handoffs occur several times during a perioperative encounter, increasing the risk of communication errors. Structured handoffs, such as situation-background-assessment-recommendation (SBAR) and checklists, have been shown to improve communication between providers during anesthesia care. The authors discuss how these tools and other processes can improve shared understanding of effective handoffs.
Krishnan S, Wheeler KK, Pimentel MP, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;Epub Oct 28.
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.
Hyvämäki P, Kääriäinen M, Tuomikoski A-M, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;Epub Aug 23.
Previous studies have demonstrated health information exchanges (HIE) can improve the quality and safety of care by improving diagnostic concordance and reducing medication errors. This review synthesizes physicians’ and nurses’ perspectives on patient safety related to use of HIE in interorganizational care transitions. Several advantages of and challenges with HIE are detailed.
Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(7):e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
Lafferty M, Harrod M, Krein SL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28(12):28(12).
Use of one-way communication technologies, such as pagers, in hospitals have led to workarounds to improve communication. Through observation, shadowing, interviews, and focus groups with nurses and physicians, this study describes antecedents, types, and effects of workarounds and their potential impact on patient safety.
Montaleytang M, Correard F, Spiteri C, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2021;43(5):1183-1190.
Previous studies have found that discrepancies between patients’ medication lists and medications they are actually taking are common. This study found that sharing the results of medication reconciliation performed at admission and discharge with patients’ community care providers led to a decrease in medication discrepancies.
Alper E, O'Malley TA, Greenwald J. UpToDate. September 20, 2021.
This review examines hospital discharge, details elements of the process that can increase risk of readmission, and reveals interventions to improve safety.

Ensuring maternal safety is a patient safety priority. This library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on improving maternal safety. Included resources explore strategies with the potential to improve maternal care delivery and outcomes, such as high reliability, care standardization, teamwork, unit-based safety initiatives, and trigger tools.

London, UK: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman; 2021. ISBN 9781528627016. 

Lack of appropriate follow up of diagnostic imaging can result in care delays, patient harm, and death. This report summarizes an investigation of 25 imaging failures in the British National Health Service (NHS). The analysis identified communication and coordination issues resulting in lack of action and reporting of unanticipated findings to properly advance care. Recommendations to improve imaging in the NHS include use of previous analyses to enhance learning from failure.
Chladek MS, Doughty C, Patel B, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(3):e001254.
The I-PASS handoff bundle has been successful at improving patient safety during handoffs in the hospital. A pediatric emergency department implemented the I-PASS bundle to improve handoffs between medical residents. Results showed a 53% decrease in omissions of crucial information and residents perceived improvement in patient safety.
Werner NE, Rutkowski RA, Krause S, et al. Appl Ergon. 2021;96:103509.
Shared mental models contribute to effective team collaboration and communication. Based on interviews and thematic analysis, the authors explored mental models between the emergency department (ED) and skilled nursing facility (SNF). The authors found that these healthcare professionals had misaligned mental models regarding communication during care transitions and healthcare setting capability, and that these misalignments led to consequences for patients, professionals, and the organization.
Clari M, Conti A, Chiarini D, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2021;36(4):e51-e58.
Handovers between providers occur regularly during hospital stays. This review synthesizes the benefits of, and barriers to, successful handovers. Benefits include humanization of the patient and improved patient safety; barriers include provider stress and feelings of inadequacy. Recognition of these factors can improve successful implementation of handover procedures in hospitals.
Abraham J, Meng A, Sona C, et al. Int J Med Inform. 2021;151:104458.
Standardized handoff protocols from the operating room to the intensive care unit have improved patient safety, but clinician compliance and long-term sustainability remain poor. This study identified four phases of post-operative handoff associated with risk factors: pre-transfer preparation, transfer and set up, report preparation and delivery, and post-transfer care. The authors recommend “flexibly standardized” handoff intervention tools for safe transfer from operating room to intensive care.
Walters GK. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(4):e264-e267.
The majority of preventable adverse events are multifactorial in nature and are a result of system failures. Using a case study, the authors outline a series of errors following misplacement of a PICC line. Failures include differences in recording electronic health record notes and communication between providers. Investigations of all adverse events will help identify and correct system failures to improve patient safety.
Holstine JB, Samora JB. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47(9):563-571.
Errors in surgical specimen handling can cause treatment delays or missed diagnoses. This children’s hospital implemented a quality improvement effort to reduce surgical specimen errors. Using a variety of methods, including changes to specimen labeling, improved communication, and specimen time-out, they were able to decrease the mean rate of order errors and labeling-related errors.