Mathew G, Kho A, Dexter P, et al. J Patient Saf. 2012;8:69-75.
Adverse events after hospital discharge are a continued threat to patient safety and the basis for interventions targeting key contributing factors. Premature discharge is an area less studied, partly because the decision-making for safe discharge falls on individual providers and their clinical assessment. This study developed a set of triggers based on selected laboratory abnormalities that could systematically identify patients potentially unsafe for discharge. Triggers that led to a discharge alert included an elevated white blood cell count, a rising creatinine level, specific abnormalities in electrolytes, and an elevated international normalized ratio (INR) in the absence of anticoagulant therapy. The discharge filter tool requires further validation, but it represents an innovation that leverages computerized systems to provide safer care.
A powerful anti-clotting medication is ordered for a patient admitted for coronary intervention. Due to a forcing function in the computer order entry system, the intern enters an arbitrary maintenance infusion rate, assuming that the pharmacy will fix it if it is wrong. The pharmacy dispenses it as written, and the nurse administers it—underdosing the patient by a factor of 40.
A pregnant woman with asthma was admitted to the hospital with respiratory distress. Although the emergency department providers noted that she was pregnant, this information was not conveyed to the floor. On admission, the patient was given an antibiotic that could have been dangerous.
An elderly, non–English-speaking man with diabetes was admitted to the hospital twice in 8 days due to hypoglycemia. At discharge, the patient was instructed not to take any antidiabetic medications. In between hospitalizations, he saw his primary care physician, who restarted an antidiabetic medication.
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