Blijleven V, Hoxha F, Jaspers MWM. J Med Internet Res. 2022;24:e33046.
Electronic health record (EHR) workarounds arise when users bypass safety features to increase efficiency. This scoping review aimed to validate, refine, and enrich the Sociotechnical EHR Workaround Analysis (SEWA) framework. Multidisciplinary teams (e.g. leadership, providers, EHR developers) can now use the refined SEWA framework to identify, analyze and resolve unsafe workarounds, leading to improved quality and efficiency of care.
Rajan SS, Baldwin JL, Giardina TD, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:e262-e266.
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology has been most commonly used in perioperative settings to improve patient safety. This study explored whether RFID technology can improve process measures in laboratory settings, such as order tracking, specimen processing, and test result communication. Findings indicate that RFID-tracked orders were more likely to have completed testing process milestones and were completed more quickly.
McHugh MD, Aiken LH, Sloane DM, et al. The Lancet. 2021;397:1905-1913.
While research shows that better nurse staffing ratios are associated with improved patient outcomes, policies setting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals are rarely implemented. In 2016, select Queensland (Australia) hospitals implemented minimum nurse staffing ratios. Compared to hospitals that did not implement minimum nurse staffing ratios, length of stay, mortality, and readmission rates were significantly lower in intervention hospitals, providing evidence, once again, that minimum staffing ratios can improve patient outcomes.
Salvador RO, Gnanlet A, McDermott C. Personnel Rev. 2020;50:971-984.
Prior research suggests that functional flexibility has benefits in several industries but may carry patient safety risks in healthcare settings. Using data from a national nursing database, this study examined the effect of unit-level nursing functional flexibility on the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Results indicate that higher use of functionally flexible nurses was associated with a higher number of pressure ulcers, but this effect was moderated when coworker support within the unit was high.
Surgical specimen and laboratory process problems can affect diagnosis. This publication examines factors that contribute to errors across the surgical pathology process and reviews strategies to reduce their impact on care. Chapters discuss areas of focus to encourage process improvement and error response, such as information technology, specimen tracking, root cause analysis, and disclosure.
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.
Mays JA, Mathias PC. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2019;26:269-272.
Point-of-care test results are often manually transcribed into the electronic health record, which introduces risks of manual transcription errors. The authors of this study took advantage of a redundant workflow in which point-of-care blood glucose results were uploaded and also manually entered by staff. They estimate that 5 in 1000 manually entered results contain clinically significant transcription errors and call for interfacing point-to-care instruments as a patient safety strategy.
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.
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.
Price S, Lusznat R. The Clin Teach. 2018;15:240-244.
Teamwork is an important component of safety culture. This qualitative study found that medical and surgical trainees' perceptions of teams varied widely. The authors contend that the emergence of shift work may hinder trainees' ability to feel as if they are part of a team and can present a challenge to safety culture.
Bates CK, Yang J, Huang G, et al. Acad Med. 2016;91:60-4.
Residency training presents challenges to patient safety, including increased handoffs due to duty-hour reform. While residents are completing inpatient and outpatient training simultaneously, providing outpatients with continuity of care poses an additional complication. In this pre-post survey study, investigators found that separating inpatient and outpatient responsibilities for residents enhanced their perceptions of patient safety in both settings. This intervention also improved patient continuity (the proportion of visits for which residents saw their own patients); heightened continuity is thought to foster timely and accurate diagnosis. This study offers a replicable intervention to address some patient safety risks associated with medical residency. A previous WebM&M commentary discusses safety hazards and educational challenges related to academic year-end transfers.
Estryn-Behar MR, Milanini-Magny G, Chaumon E, et al. J Patient Saf. 2014;10:29-44.
This direct observation study found that registered nurses, physicians, and nursing aides have frequent interruptions and limited time for shift-change handoffs. This finding suggests that widespread efforts to ensure adequate handoff time and minimize interruptions have not mitigated these problems in hospital settings.
Vaughan L, McAlister G, Bell D. Clin Med (Lond). 2011;11:322-326.
This survey of physicians about the UK equivalent of the "July effect"—a tradition of nearly 50,000 new doctors starting on the first Wednesday in August—found a high degree of concern for patient care, safety, and training. The authors conclude that there is a need for structural changes.
Nuckols TK, Escarce JJ. J Gen Intern Med. 2012;27:241-9.
This cost analysis of the 2011 duty hour regulations for resident physicians demonstrates that the regulations will almost certainly result in increased costs for teaching hospitals, unless preventable adverse events decline substantially after the new regulations are implemented.
Young JQ, Ranji SR, Wachter RM, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:309-15.
The beginning of residency training for new interns has long been rumored to result in preventable harm for patients, a phenomenon known as the "July Effect" in the US and by the more macabre term "August killing season" in the UK. However, prior studies have reached conflicting conclusions about whether the "July Effect" truly exists. This systematic review of 39 studies provides the first comprehensive evidence that being hospitalized in July may actually be harmful, as a subset of larger and higher quality studies did find that mortality increased and efficiency of care decreased in association with new residents assuming their duties. Unfortunately, most studies included in the review had methodological flaws, meaning that the exact degree of harm could not be quantified.
A healthy elderly man presented to his primary care doctor—a third-year internal medicine resident—for routine examination. A PSA test was markedly elevated, but the results came back after the resident had graduated, and the alert went unread. Months later, the patient presented with new onset low back pain and was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.
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