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Healthcare Excellence Canada
This site provides promotional materials for an annual awareness campaign on patient safety that takes place in the autumn. The 2022 observance will be held October 24th through 28th.

The focus on patient safety in the ambulatory setting was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriately shifting priorities to responding to the pandemic. This piece explores some of the core themes of patient safety in the ambulatory setting, including diagnostic safety and diagnostic errors. Ways to enhance patient safety in the ambulatory care setting and next steps in ambulatory care safety are addressed. 

A 52-year old women presented to the emergency department with a necrotizing soft tissue infection (necrotizing fasciitis) after undergoing cosmetic abdominoplasty (‘tummy tuck’) elsewhere. A lack of communication and disputes between the Emergency Medicine, Emergency General Surgery and Plastic Surgery teams about what service was responsible for the patient’s care led to delays in treatment. These delays allowed the infection to progress, ultimately requiring excision of a large area of skin and soft tissue.
An intern night float, called in on jeopardy from an outside institution for an intern who was ill, was paged to the bedside of an unstable patient to assess his condition. In the electronic health record, the intern checked the code status and clinical information, but the signout did not specify the patient’s goals of care nor what course of action to take should the patient worsen. Although the patient was listed as full code and the intern attempted to reach both the rapid response team and the senior resident, she was not aware the pager numbers were incorrect.
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.
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.
Vijayakumar S, Duggar WN, Packianathan S, et al. Front Oncol. 2019;9:302.
Huddles are increasingly being used to improve safety in hospitals. This commentary describes how one hospital implemented structured multidisciplinary prospective peer review of radiation oncology patient treatment plans to help prevent harm and reduce errors. The authors discuss safety culture and minimizing clinical hierarchy as drivers of success.

GMS J Med Educ. 2019;36:Doc11-Doc22.

Patient safety has been described as an unmet need in physician training. This special issue covers areas of focus for a patient safety curriculum drawn from experience in the German medical education system. Topics covered include human error, blame, and responsibility. Articles also review the epidemiology of common problems such as medication safety, organizational contributors to failure, and diagnostic error.
Hessels AJ, Paliwal M, Weaver SH, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2019;34:287-294.
This cross-sectional study examined associations between safety culture, missed nursing care, and adverse events. Investigators found significant associations between worse ratings of safety culture and more reports of missed nursing care. They recommend enhancing safety culture to reduce missed nursing care and improve safety.
Wolfe HA, Mack EH. Transl Pediatr. 2018;7:267-274.
Pediatric critical care patients are at greater risk for harm. This review examines how a culture of safety affects pediatric critical care delivery and highlights collaboratives as effective mechanisms to develop and test improvement strategies. The authors discuss the development of bundles to reduce hospital-acquired infections and standardize handoffs as promising safety improvement practices.
Campbell D, Dontje K. Journal of emergency nursing: JEN : official publication of the Emergency Department Nurses Association. 2019;45:149-154.
Handoffs in the emergency department are vulnerable to error. This commentary describes an improvement initiative that focused on structuring nurse shift change using situation, background, assessment, recommendation (SBAR) communication methods. Although safety culture scores improved, the authors note that resistance to change was a key barrier to implementation.
A woman with a history of psychiatric illness presented to the emergency department with agitation, hallucinations, tachycardia, and transient hypoxia. The consulting psychiatric resident attributed the tachycardia and hypoxia to her underlying agitation and admitted her to an inpatient psychiatric facility. Over the next few days, her tachycardia persisted and continued to be attributed to her psychiatric disease. On hospital day 5, the patient was found unresponsive and febrile, with worsening tachycardia, tachypnea, and hypoxia; she had diffuse myoclonus and increased muscle tone.
Clements K. Nursing Management (Springhouse). 2017;48.
High reliability has yet to be achieved in health care organizations. This magazine article described how a 13-hospital health system used handoff standardization tools such as I-PASS to enhance the reliability of patient transitions.
Farmer B. Emerg Med (N Y). 2016;48.
Emergency departments are high-risk environments due to the urgency of care needs and complexity of communication. This commentary explores challenges associated with medication administration, handoffs, discharge processes, and electronic health records in emergency medicine and recommends strategies to reduce risks.
Sheth S, McCarthy E, Kipps AK, et al. PEDIATRICS. 2016;137.
The I-PASS signout tool has become a widely used method of patient handoffs when transferring care from the primary clinician to a covering clinician. This study used the I-PASS framework to develop and implement a standardized signout process for transferring patients from the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit to the general ward. The new process significantly improved clinician workflow and perceived safety culture relating to handoffs.
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.

J Health Serv Res Policy. 2015;20(suppl 1):S1-S60.

Articles in this special supplement explore research commissioned by National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom to address four patient safety research gaps: how organizational culture and context influence evaluations of interventions, organizational boundaries that affect handovers and other aspects of care, the role of the patient in safety improvement, and the economic costs and benefits of safety interventions.
Pannick S, Beveridge I, Wachter RM, et al. Eur J Intern Med. 2014;25:874-87.
This narrative review of safety efforts on general hospital wards found that most interventions encompass one or more of five areas: staffing levels, interprofessional collaboration, standardization of care such as use of checklists, rapid response to clinical deterioration, and safety culture. The authors advocate for increasing the evidence base in all of these areas, as gaps in implementation and sustainment are prevalent.