Criminalization of medical mistakes typifies the blame-focused approach patient safety leaders have worked to reduce in health care. This article covers a high-profile case of medication error involving an automated dispensing system that is ubiquitous in health care.
Jena AB, Olenski AR. New York Times. February 20, 2020.
Unconscious biases affecting health care decisions elevate the potential for harm. This news story discusses how experience and implicit biases can impact physician decision-making. The use of decision support is one strategy highlighted to redirect heuristics and other cognitive biases to minimize their impact on treatment.
The unintended consequences of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare continue to generate clinician concern. This magazine piece examines the potential diagnostic improvements to be realized from AI while cautioning about its premature use generating overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute Care Edition. October 24, 2019.
Automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) have been implemented in hospitals to improve drug administration safety, but with misuse, can cause patient harm. This newsletter article focuses on three primary ADC user-related problems and offers recommendations for reducing factors that minimize their safe use.
ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute Care Edition. February 14, 2019;24.
Reporting on the criminal indictment of a nurse involved in the death of a patient, this newsletter article reviews factors that contributed to the failure, urges leadership to modify the use of blame tactics in response to medical mistakes, and highlights guidelines to prevent similar incidents.
ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute Care Edition. January 17, 2019;24:1-6.
This newsletter article reports on the findings of a government investigation into the death of a patient during a positron emission tomography scan. A neuromuscular blocking agent was mistakenly administered instead of an anti-anxiety medication with a similar name. The investigation determined various individual and system failures that contributed to the incident, such as misuse of automated dispensing cabinets, wrong picklist medication selection, workarounds of override protections, and lack of patient monitoring. Recommendations for preventing similar incidents include use of barcoding verification, automated dispensing cabinet stocking changes, and labeling improvements.
The operating room environment harbors particular patient safety hazards. Drawing from 1137 perioperative medication error reports submitted over a 1-year period, this analysis found that more than half of the recorded incidents reached the patient and the majority of those stemmed from communication breakdowns during transitions or handoffs. The authors provide recommendations to reduce risks of error, including using barcode medication administration, standardizing handoff procedures, and stocking prefilled syringes.
Increased urgency to prevent maternal mortality has uncovered various factors that diminish safety. This newsletter article reports on incidents involving the accidental misuse of epidural analgesia and intravenous antibiotics in labor and delivery care, describes contributing factors (e.g., health technology missteps, barcoding mistakes, and look-alike medications), and offers improvement strategies to mitigate harm.
Similarities in patient names and clinical situations can result in medical errors. Discussing how digital technologies can exacerbate patient identification problems, this magazine article describes unique elements of information systems that enable mistakes to spread quickly, outlines costs associated with patient mismatches, and recommends improvement strategies such as use of unique patient identifiers. A past WebM&M commentary reviewed an incident involving a patient mix-up.
Overreliance on technology can result in harmful medication mistakes. Reporting on a 10-fold medication overdose that led to the death of a patient with dementia, this news article describes how the hospital changed their processes to improve medication safety, which included restructuring medication safety leadership, modifying the electronic health record to address alert overrides, and enhancing information sharing to support learning and transparency.
Advance care planning can affect patient safety if the information is unheeded, unavailable, or unread. Reporting on a physician's experience with a patient who nearly received an unwanted intubation due to poor electronic health record data quality and design, this newspaper article describes problems associated with lack of standards for advance care planning documentation and the inability to access advance directives.
Meyer TA, McAllister RK. Pharmacy Practice News. March 19, 2018.
Perioperative adverse drug events are common and understudied. Reporting on the complexity of medication administration during surgery, this news article reviews strategies to reduce risks of surgical adverse drug events. Specific tactics discussed include proactive problem identification, medication reconciliation, high-alert medication process vigilance, verbal order reduction, and information technology optimization.
Myriad system and clinician failures can contribute to medication errors. This newsletter article reviews factors that contribute to nebulized medication administration problems, such as unlabeled solutions, look-alike packaging, equipment misuse, and storage issues. Recommendations to reduce risks include team assessment of barcode scanning processes, communicating orders, and storing vials separately.
Misdiagnosis has gained recognition as an important patient safety problem. This newspaper article reports on several areas of research and improvement efforts that seek to better understand the roots of diagnostic error and design solutions. Strategies discussed include artificial intelligence, lessons learned initiatives, and data-tracking mechanisms.
Confusion due to look-alike and sound-alike medications are known to contribute to medication errors. Describing errors associated with a certain medication naming convention, this newsletter article offers recommendations to reduce risks related to these drugs, including labeling clarifications, storing medications separately, barcode scanning, and staff education.
Many emergency departments have recently implemented electronic health records, which has introduced new safety hazards. This news article reports on challenges associated with the growing use of electronic health records in emergency care, including insufficient usability and increased risk of documentation errors.
Grissinger M. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. December 2015;12:141-148.
Users often bypass alerts meant to enhance safety of medication ordering and dispensing technologies. This article analyzes reports submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority to determine the types of technologies and medications frequently associated with overrides and recommends strategies to reduce risk of alarm fatigue.
Grissinger M, Alghamdi D. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. December 2014;11:149-155.
Analyzing incidents reported over a 4-month period, this article reveals that 21% of 2700 medication errors involved at least one high-alert medication. The investigation found that more than half of errors occurred during the administration process, and problems associated with set up and use of intravenous (IV) delivery systems contributed to omissions. Recommended strategies to reduce risks include developing standard procedures, tracing IV lines, and enhancing utilization of health care technology.
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