Emani S, Sequist TD, Lacson R, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019;45:552-557.
Health care systems struggle to ensure patients with precancerous colon and lung lesions receive appropriate follow-up. This academic center hired navigators who effectively increased the proportion of patients who completed recommended diagnostic testing for colon polyps and lung nodules. A WebM&M commentary described how patients with lung nodules are at risk for both overtreatment and undertreatment.
Cullen A. Uitgeverij van Brug: The Hague, The Netherlands; 2019. ISBN: 9789065232236.
Patient stories offer important insights regarding the impact medical errors have on patients and their families. This book shares the author's experience with medical error and spotlights how lack of transparency in European health care can contribute to avoidable process failures that result in patient harm.
Mistakes during handoffs from the emergency department (ED) to inpatient units can diminish patient safety. This commentary summarizes how one hospital sought to to avoid miscommunications and disruptions by blocking admission of ED transfers during shift report. However, researchers found that blocking patient transfers did not result in improvements. The project did devise a standardized handoff process that was ultimately employed across the organization as a patient safety strategy.
Tully AP, Hammond DA, Li C, et al. Crit Care Med. 2019;47:543-549.
Transitions of care, whether from the hospital to the outpatient setting or within the hospital itself, represent a vulnerable time for patients. Inadequate communication during handoffs that occur as part of care transitions can contribute to adverse events and errors, including medication errors. This study of 58 intensive care units (ICUs) across 34 United States hospitals and 2 Dutch hospitals sought to assess medication errors among patients transferred from ICUs. Of the 985 patients included in the study, almost half (46%) experienced a medication error during transition out of the ICU. Discontinuing orders and reordering medications at the time of transfer out of the ICU as well as daily patient rounding in the ICU were associated with decreased odds of medication error during transition. A past Annual Perspective discussed challenges associated with handoffs and transitions of care.
Driver BE, Scharber SK, Fagerstrom ET, et al. J Emerg Med. 2019;56:109-113.
This pre–post study examined the effect of an electronic health record alert that required physicians to respond "yes" or "no" regarding whether tests were pending at the time of discharge from the emergency department. Investigators found that physician responses were often inaccurate, and the proportion of discharged patients with tests pending increased following the intervention, contrary to intentions.
Griffiths P, Maruotti A, Saucedo AR, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:609-617.
There is a clear link between nurse staffing ratios and patient safety. This study corroborates the finding that lower registered nurse staffing and higher numbers of patients admitted per nurse are associated with increased rates of in-hospital mortality. The results underscore the importance of adequate nursing to ensure safe acute care.
Griffiths P, Ball JE, Bloor K, et al. National Institute for Health Research; 2018.
Missed nursing care has been linked to safety problems, but ensuring reliable levels of nurse staffing remains challenging. This report provides the results of a 3-year investigation into whether tracking of vital signs by nursing staff could serve as a viable measure for safe patient coverage. The report identified correlations between low staffing, missed vital sign observation, length of stay, and likelihood of mortality. However, record review found no direct relationship between safety and staffing levels. A PSNet perspective examined the relationship between missed nursing care and patient safety.
Nursing home patients are vulnerable to preventable harm due to poor safety culture, insufficient staffing levels, lack of regulation enforcement, and misaligned financial incentives. This news investigation reports on how poor practices resulted in resident harm in Pennsylvania nursing homes and discusses strategies for improvement, such as enhancing investigation processes.
Tubbs-Cooley HL, Mara CA, Carle AC, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173:44-51.
Excessive nursing workload is a known safety issue. This study examined whether nurse workload in the neonatal intensive care unit affected the quality of nursing care. Investigators measured workload using patient–nurse ratios, taking into account patient acuity, and a convenience sample of nurses also reported their perceived workload. Participating nurses were asked to report the care they provided, and missed care was defined as self-reported failure to provide any of 11 prespecified essential elements of nursing care. The authors identified a consistent association between perceived workload and missed care, suggesting that nurses' own assessments of their workload should be a safety consideration. A PSNet perspective explores how missed nursing care may explain the association between low nurse staffing levels and increased mortality in hospital patients.
Duffy JR, Culp S, Padrutt T. J Nurs Adm. 2018;48:361-367.
Prior research has shown that missed nursing care may in part result from reduced nurse staffing and is associated with adverse outcomes for patients. Using survey data from a sample of nurses at a single community hospital, researchers found that reduced nurse staffing, lower job satisfaction, and decreased satisfaction with teamwork were important factors related to missed nursing care.
Griffiths P, Recio-Saucedo A, Dall'Ora C, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2018;74:1474-1487.
Inadequate hospital nurse staffing is linked to increased mortality. This systematic review found that lower nurse staffing is associated with more reports of missed nursing care. Two of the authors summarized the science of missed nursing care in a recent PSNet perspective.
Sasso L, Bagnasco A, Aleo G, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:929-932.
Multiple factors in the hospital environment influence the incidence of missed nursing care. This commentary describes strategies to address these errors of omission, including changing mental models to recognize the financial benefit of increasing staffing levels to improve patient safety.
Ball JE, Bruyneel L, Aiken LH, et al. Int J Nurs Stud. 2018;78:10-15.
Missed nursing care may result from inadequate nurse staffing and explain the relationship between nurse-to-patient ratios and patient outcomes. Research has shown that higher nurse staffing levels are associated with lower inpatient mortality and that reduced staffing increases the risk for postoperative complications. In this study, investigators examined data from more than 400,000 surgical patients from 300 hospitals in 9 countries as well as survey responses from 26,516 nurses. They found a significant association between nurse staffing and missed nursing care with 30-day risk-adjusted postoperative mortality. The authors conclude that measuring missed nursing care may help identify patients at greater risk for adverse outcomes earlier in their course. A past WebM&M commentary highlighted important issues associated with nurse staffing ratios.
For an older patient presenting with upper back pain and faint bilateral crackles, physicians misinterpreted a negative sepsis screen as a negative infection screen and delayed antibiotic treatment for pneumonia. The patient developed worsened hypoxemia, hypotension, delirium, and progressive organ failure.
Morgan DJ, Malani P, Diekema DJ. JAMA. 2017;318:607-608.
Problems managing laboratory tests can contribute to diagnostic error. This commentary suggests that adjusting the diagnostic testing process could enhance the reliability of antibiotic use, reduce potential for unintended harms associated with overtesting, and improve care safety.
Kwan JL, Singh H. Diagnosis (Berl). 2017;4:173-177.
Problems with test result management can contribute to diagnostic delay and failure. This review explores accountability issues associated with processing and following up on radiology results. The authors highlight the importance of closed-loop communication to ensure that test results support safe care.
A woman was discharged with instructions to complete an antibiotic course for C. difficile. The same day, the microbiology laboratory notified the patient's nurse that her blood culture grew Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause life-threatening infection. However, the result was not communicated to the medical team prior to discharge.
After presenting to the emergency department, a woman with chest pain was given nitroglycerine and a so-called GI cocktail. Her electrocardiogram was unremarkable, and she was scheduled for a stress test the next morning. A few minutes into the stress test, the patient collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.
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