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1 - 20 of 21
Nehls N, Yap TS, Salant T, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001603.
Incomplete or delayed referrals from primary care providers to specialty care can cause diagnostic delays and patient harm. A systems engineering analysis was conducted to identify vulnerabilities in the referral process and develop a framework to close the loop between primary and specialty care. Low reliability processes, such as workarounds, were identified and human factors approaches were recommended to improve successful referral rates.
Rogith D, Satterly T, Singh H, et al. Appl Clin Inform. 2020;11:692-698.
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.
This Primer provides an overview of the history and current status of the patient safety field and key definitions and concepts. It links to other Patient Safety Primers that discuss the concepts in more detail.

Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37(11):1723-1908.

The Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, marked the founding of the patient safety field. This special issue of Health Affairs, published 20 years after that report, highlights achievements and progress to date. One implementation study of evidence-based surgical safety checklists demonstrated that leadership involvement, intensive activities, and engagement of frontline staff are all critical to successful adoption of safety practices. Another study demonstrated that communication-and-resolution programs either decreased or did not affect malpractice costs, providing further support for implementing such programs. Experts describe the critical role of human factors engineering in patient safety and outline how to enhance the use of these methods. The concluding editorial by David Bates and Hardeep Singh points to progress in reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving medication safety in acute care settings and highlights remaining gaps in the areas of outpatient care, diagnostic errors, and electronic health record safety. In the related information, the Moore Foundation provides free access to five articles in this special issue.
Cifuentes M, Davis M, Fernald D, et al. J Am Board Fam Med. 2015;28:S63-S72.
This observational study of 11 community practices that had integrated behavioral health and primary care describes the challenges related to electronic health records that do not specifically support integrated care delivery functions. There were issues with documentation, tracking, communication, and coordination of care, requiring practices to develop workarounds such as double data entry, scanning and uploading documents, or using separate tracking systems.
Griesbach S, Lustig A, Malsin L, et al. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2016;21:330-336.
This study of a quality improvement initiative found that automated screening of prescribing data uncovered many potential adverse drug events. Prescribers were notified about these safety concerns, and almost 80% of these potential adverse drug events were resolved through prescription changes. The extent of patient harm which occurred or was averted was not reported. This work suggests that real-time data from electronic prescribing could be harnessed to improve patient safety, as others have suggested.
Following hospitalization for community-acquired pneumonia, an elderly man with a history of dementia, falls, and atrial fibrillation is discharged on antibiotics but no changes to his anticoagulation medication. One week later, the patient’s INR was dangerously high.
A patient requiring orthopedic follow-up after an emergency department visit missed his appointment, and a secretary canceled the referral in the electronic medical record to minimize black marks on the hospital’s 30-day referral quality scorecard. Because the primary physician did not receive notice of the cancellation, follow-up was delayed.
Rivera-Rodriguez AJ, Karsh B-T. Qual Saf Health Care. 2010;19:304-312.
The majority of individual errors are due to failure to perform automatic or reflexive actions. A major risk factor for these "slips" is being interrupted or distracted while performing a task. This review examined the literature on the incidence, risk factors, and effects of interruptions in several clinical settings, ranging from outpatient clinics to the operating room. Although distractions are common and may be associated with increased risk for error, particularly if they occur during medication administration or signout, the authors point out that many interruptions may be necessary to communicate urgent clinical information. They argue for complexity theory–based research to delineate the harmful and beneficial aspects of interruptions, rather than for interventions that seek to simply eliminate interruptions. Checklists have been widely adopted as a means of preventing errors of omission, which may be precipitated by interruptions.

Baker GR, ed. Healthc Q. 2009;12(Spec No Patient):1-198.  

This special issue discusses Canadian patient safety efforts in identifying risks, designing safe systems, implementing solutions, developing learning systems, and understanding legal decision making.
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.
Lo HG, Matheny ME, Seger DL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009;16:66-71.
"Alert fatigue" refers to the tendency of clinicians to ignore safety alerts—for example, warnings about potential drug interactions—if alerts are too frequent or perceived to be clinically irrelevant. However, in this study, less intrusive alerts that did not require physician response were not effective at encouraging use of recommended laboratory monitoring.
Cohen MR.
This monthly selection of medication error reports describes a case of misidentifying home medications for a hospitalized patient, how character space limitations in medication administration records may cause medication errors, and fatal misuse of a fentanyl patch on a child. 

Healthc Q. 2006;9 Spec No:1-140.

This special issue describes projects and research in Canadian health care that are supporting improvements in patient safety.