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Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.
The comprehensive unit-based safety program (CUSP) approach emphasizes improving safety culture through a continuous process of reporting and learning from errors, improving teamwork, and engaging staff at all levels in safety efforts. Available on demand and live, this session covers how to utilize CUSP, including understanding and addressing challenges to implementation.

An increasing volume of patients presenting for acute care can create a need for more ICU beds and intensivists and lead to longer wait times and boarding of critically ill patients in the emergency department (ED).1 Data suggest that boarding of critically ill patients for more than 6 hours in the emergency department leads to poorer outcomes and increased mortality.2,3 To address this issue, University of Michigan Health, part of Michigan Medicine, developed an ED-based ICU, the first of its kind, in its 1,000-bed adult hospital.

Li Q, Hu P, Kang H, et al. J Nutr Health Aging. 2020;25:492-500.
Missed and delayed diagnosis are a known cause of preventable adverse events. In this cohort of 107 patients with severe or critical COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, 45% developed acute kidney injury (AKI). However, nearly half of those patients (46%) were not diagnosed during their stay in the hospital. Patients with undiagnosed AKI experienced greater hospital mortality than those without AKI or diagnosed AKI. Involvement of intensive care kidney specialists is recommended to increase diagnostic awareness.
Gurwitz JH, Kapoor A, Garber L, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181:610-618.
High-risk medications have the potential to cause serious patient harm if not administered correctly. In this randomized trial, a pharmacist-directed intervention (including in-home assessment by a clinical pharmacist, communication with the primary care team, and telephone follow-up) did not result in a lower rate of adverse drug events or medication errors involving high-risk drug classes during the posthospitalization period.
Bloodworth LS, Malinowski SS, Lirette ST, et al. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association: JAPhA. 2019;59:896-904.
Medication reconciliation is one potential strategy for preventing adverse events and readmissions. This study examined a pharmacist-led intervention involving collaborations with inpatient and community-based pharmacists to provide pre-discharge and 30-day medication reconciliation. There were indications that this type of intervention can reduce readmission rates, but further investigation in larger populations is necessary.  
Wood C, Chaboyer W, Carr P. Int J Nurs Stud. 2019;94:166-178.
Early detection of patient deterioration remains an elusive patient safety target. This scoping review examined how nurses employ early warning scoring systems that prompt them to call rapid response teams. Investigators identified 23 studies for inclusion. Barriers to effective identification and treatment of patient deterioration included difficulty implementing early warning score systems, overreliance on numeric risk scores, and inconsistent activation of rapid response teams based on early warning score results. They recommend that nurses follow scoring algorithms that calculate risk for deterioration while supplementing risk scoring with their clinical judgment from the bedside. A WebM&M commentary highlighted how early recognition of patient deterioration requires not only medical expertise but also collaboration and communication among providers.
Following catheter-guided thrombolysis for a large saddle pulmonary embolism, a man was monitored in the intensive care unit. The catheters were removed the next day, and the patient was sent from the interventional radiology suite to the postanesthesia care unit, after which he was transferred to a telemetry bed on the stepdown unit. No explicit plan for anticoagulation was discussed with the accepting medical team. Shortly after the nurse found the patient lethargic, tachycardic, and hypoxic, the patient lost his pulse and a code was called.
Seen in the emergency department, a man with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus had not taken insulin for 3 days. His blood glucose levels were in the 800s with an anion-gap acidosis and positive beta hydroxybutyrate. While awaiting an ICU bed for treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis, the patient received fluids, an insulin drip was started, and blood glucose levels were monitored hourly. When lab results showed he was improving, the team decided to convert his insulin drip to subcutaneous long-acting insulin.
Craynon R, Hager DR, Reed M, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2018;75:1486-1492.
Pharmacists are expanding their reach as stewards of medication safety into the front line of care. This project report describes the pilot testing of pharmacist involvement in development and review of medication orders in the discharge workflow. A substantive percentage of medication problems were prevented due to pharmacist engagement.
Pellegrin K, Lozano A, Miyamura J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:103-110.
Older adults frequently encounter medication-related harm, which may result in preventable hospitalizations. In six Hawaiian hospitals, hospital pharmacists identified older patients at risk of medication problems and assigned them to a community pharmacist who coordinated their medications across prescribers for 1 year after discharge. This post-hoc analysis of the intervention found that most medication-related harm occurred in the community (70%) rather than the hospital and that the intervention successfully reduced community-acquired harm.
Dr. Meltzer is the Fanny L. Pritzker Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine, and Director of the Center for Health and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His research aims to improve the quality and lower the cost of hospital care. We spoke with him about the Comprehensive Care Physician Model, which he pioneered and was recently featured in an article in The New York Times Magazine.
De Oliveira GS, Castro-Alves LJ, Kendall MC, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:375-380.
Care transitions increase risk for medication errors. This meta-analysis found that pharmacist support during care transitions reduced medication errors and postdischarge emergency department visits. These results support a role for pharmacists in medication safety interventions for patients undergoing care transitions.
Although meningitis and neurosyphilis were ruled out for a woman presenting with a headache and blurry vision, blood tests returned indicating latent (inactive) syphilis. Due to a history of penicillin allergy, the patient was sent for testing for penicillin sensitivity, which was negative. The allergist placed orders for neurosyphilis treatment—a far higher penicillin dose than needed to treat latent syphilis, and a treatment regimen that would have required hospitalization.
Polinski JM, Moore JM, Kyrychenko P, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35:1222-9.
This intervention study provided pharmacist support to perform medication reconciliation and care coordination for patients discharged from the hospital. Compared to similar-risk patients who did not receive the intervention, those who had medication reconciliation by pharmacists were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. These results add to the existing literature supporting the utility of pharmacist-led care transition interventions.
Ensing HT, Koster ES, Stuijt CCM, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2015;37:430-4.
Patients are susceptible to various problems following hospital discharge, including medication errors. This commentary suggests that improving the transfer of patient medication history, performing home visits to follow up with patients, and collaboration between primary care and community pharmacy can help reduce adverse drug events after patients are discharged from the hospital.
Kitto S, Marshall SD, McMillan SE, et al. J Interprof Care. 2015;29:340-6.
Clinical staff often fail to call rapid response teams to evaluate deteriorating patients, even when objective criteria for calling the team are met. This qualitative study of physicians and nurses at an Australian hospital found that an impaired culture of safety can result in failure to use the rapid response team when appropriate and can also lead to using the team as a workaround to compensate for poor interdisciplinary communication.
Resler J, Hackworth J, Mayo E, et al. J Trauma Nurs. 2014;21:272-275; quiz 276-277.
Missed injuries and delayed diagnoses are a relatively common problem in trauma care. This study describes a 150% increase in the number of documented missed injuries that were caught following the introduction of acute care nurse practitioners on a pediatric trauma service. The authors attribute the uptick in identified missed injuries to better charting and follow-up examinations.
Investigators CMETIS, Cheung W, Sahai V, et al. Med J Aust. 2014;201:528-31.
Rapid response teams, while controversial, have become a mainstay of hospital efforts to identify patients at risk for acute deterioration. This survey of rapid response members, including physicians and nurses, sought to determine whether team activities adversely affected usual work responsibilities. Although there were no reports of patient harm associated with attending rapid response events instead of normal duties, team members did report significant disruption of usual routines and inconvenience to other staff and patients. Hospital incident reporting systems did not capture this unintended consequence of rapid response mobilization. These data add to the concerns about rapid response teams as a patient safety strategy. A past AHRQ WebM&M perspective covers lessons learned from early rapid response system implementation.