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This Spotlight Case describes an older man incidentally diagnosed with prostate cancer, with metastases to the bone. He was seen in clinic one month after that discharge, without family present, and scheduled for outpatient biopsy. He showed up to the biopsy without adequate preparation and so it was rescheduled. He did not show up to the following four oncology appointments.

AHA Team Training.
 

The COVID-19 crisis requires cooperation and coordination of organizations and providers to address the persistent challenges presented by the pandemic. This on-demand video collection reinforces core TeamSTEPPS; methods that enhance clinician teamwork and communication skills to manage care safety during times of crisis. 
Lam BD, Bourgeois FC, Dong ZJ, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:685-694.
Providing patients access to their medical records can improve patient engagement and error identification. A survey of patients and families found that about half of adult patients and pediatric families who perceived a serious mistake in their ambulatory care notes reported it, but identified several barriers to reporting (e.g. no clear reporting mechanism, lack of perceived support).  

The Support and Services at Home (SASH®) program provides onsite assistance to help senior citizens (and other Medicare beneficiaries) remain in their homes as they age. Using evidence-based practices, a multidisciplinary, onsite team conducts an initial health assessment, creates an individualized care plan based on each participant’s self-identified goals, provides onsite nursing and care coordination with local partners, and schedules community activities to support health and wellness.

Cindy Brach, MPP is a Senior Healthcare Researcher at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and is the Co-Chair of the HHS Health Literacy Workgroup. We spoke with her about the role of cultural competence in patient safety.

 

A 63-year-old woman with hematemesis was admitted by a 2nd year medical resident for an endoscopy. The resident did not spend adequate time discussing her code status and subsequently, made a series of errors that failed to honor the patient’s preferences and could have resulted in an adverse outcome for this relatively healthy woman.
Simpkin AL, Murphy Z, Armstrong KA. Diagnosis (Berl). 2019;6:269-276.
Whether or not word selection during handoffs affects clinician anxiety and diagnostic uncertainty remains unknown. In this study involving medical students, researchers found that use of the word "hypothesis" compared to the word "diagnosis" when describing a hypothetical handoff from the emergency department to the inpatient setting was associated with increased self-reported anxiety due to uncertainty.
Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality.
Improving teamwork and communication is a continued focus in the hospital setting. This toolkit is designed to help organizations create a culture that embeds teamwork into daily practice routines. Topics covered include team leadership, learning and continuous improvement, clarifying roles, structured communication, and support for raising concerns.
Larson LA, Finley JL, Gross TL, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019;45:74-80.
Workplace violence in the health care setting is common and poses an ongoing risk for providers and staff. The Joint Commission issued a sentinel event alert to raise awareness about the risks associated with physical and verbal violence against health care workers and suggests numerous strategies organizations can use to address the problem, including establishing reporting systems and developing quality improvement interventions. The authors describe a quality improvement initiative involving the development and iterative testing of a huddle handoff tool to optimize communication between the emergency department (ED) and an admitting unit regarding patients with the potential for violent behavior. The huddle tool led to improved perceptions of safety during the patient transfer process by both the ED nurses and the admitting medical units. An accompanying editorial highlights the importance of taking a systems approach to address workplace safety. A PSNet perspective explored how a medical center developed a process to identify, prioritize, and mitigate hazards in health care settings.
Pronovost P, Johns MME, Palmer S, et al, eds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Medicine; 2018. ISBN: 9781947103122.
Although health information technology was implemented to improve safety, it has resulted in unintended consequences such as clinician burnout and perpetuation of incorrect information. This publication explores the barriers to achieving the interoperability needed to build a robust digital infrastructure that will seamlessly and reliably share information across the complex system of health care. The report advocates for adjusting purchasing behaviors to focus less on the price and features of each product and to instead look for interoperable technologies. The report outlines five action priorities to guide leadership decision-making around procurement, including championing systemwide interoperability and identifying goals and requirements. A PSNet interview discussed potential consequences of the digitization of health care.
Dr. Krumholz is Professor of Medicine at the University of Yale School of Medicine and Director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. We spoke with him about readmissions and post-hospital syndrome, a term he coined in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine to describe the risk of adverse health events in recently hospitalized patients.
Following elective lumbar drain placement to treat hydrocephalus and elevated intracranial pressures, a woman was admitted to the ICU for monitoring. After the patient participated in prescribed physical therapy on day 5, she complained of headaches, decreased appetite, and worsening visual problems—similar to her symptoms on admission. The nurse attributed the complaints to depression and took no action. Early in the morning, the patient was found barely arousable. The lumbar drain had dislodged, and a CT scan revealed the return of extensive hydrocephalus.
Francis R. London, UK: Department of Health; February 2015.
Staff willingness to raise awareness of problems that could affect patient care is an important indicator of safety culture. This publication explores National Health Service (NHS) staff perceptions regarding raising concerns about health care safety. Barriers to speaking up were related to organizational culture, incident management, and legal protection for whistleblowers. The report also suggests measures for NHS organizations to use to help ensure that staff are comfortable raising awareness of patient safety concerns.
Patterson ME, Bogart MS, Starr KR. J Hosp Med. 2015;10:152-159.
Production pressure—the pressure to continue work at maximum capacity—is a known threat to patient safety. This study analyzed the effect of production pressures by examining the relationship between two components of safety culture. Using data from the 2010 AHRQ Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, the investigators found that respondents at hospitals that worked in crisis mode more frequently also were more likely to perceive care transitions as unsafe. As emergency department overcrowding has also been linked to safety issues, the results of this study argue for efforts to manage bed capacity and patient flow as a patient safety strategy. A recent AHRQ WebM&M commentary explores how communication breakdowns and production pressure can cause adverse outcomes and highlights how checklists can help prevent mistakes.
Hewitt M, Hernandez LM; Roundtable on Health Literacy, Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2014. ISBN: 9780309303651.
Health literacy can affect patients' ability to understand directions, ask good questions, and participate in care. Framing health literacy as a public health challenge, this report describes efforts to address it in three states and explores implementation and research to improve it across the United States.
Stickney CA, Ziniel SI, Brett MS, et al. J Pediatr. 2014;165:1245-1251.e1.
In this study, health care providers and parents of children in a pediatric intensive care unit described their perceptions of family involvement in morning rounds. Although parents were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about being included in rounds, providers expressed some concerns and potential drawbacks, such as the avoidance of discussing uncomfortable topics due to presence of family.