The Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, marked the founding of the patient safety field. This special issue of Health Affairs, published 20 years after that report, highlights achievements and progress to date. One implementation study of evidence-based surgical safety checklists demonstrated that leadership involvement, intensive activities, and engagement of frontline staff are all critical to successful adoption of safety practices. Another study demonstrated that communication-and-resolution programs either decreased or did not affect malpractice costs, providing further support for implementing such programs. Experts describe the critical role of human factors engineering in patient safety and outline how to enhance the use of these methods. The concluding editorial by David Bates and Hardeep Singh points to progress in reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving medication safety in acute care settings and highlights remaining gaps in the areas of outpatient care, diagnostic errors, and electronic health record safety. In the related information, the Moore Foundation provides free access to five articles in this special issue.
Callen J, Georgiou A, Li J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20:194-199.
Adverse events after hospital discharge are a growing driver for safety interventions, including a focus on readmissions, adverse drug events, and hospital-acquired infections. Another safety area ripe for intervention is managing test results after hospital discharge. This systematic review analyzed 12 studies and found wide variation in rates of test follow-up and related management systems. Critical test results and results for patients moving across health care settings were highlighted as particularly concerning areas that could be addressed with better clinical information systems. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed a case where a patient was incorrectly treated based on failure to follow up a urine culture after hospital discharge.
The Joint Commission issues Sentinel Event Alerts to highlight areas of high risk and to promote the rapid adoption of risk reduction strategies. Adherence to these recommendations is then assessed as part of Joint Commission accreditation surveys at health care organizations nationwide. This recently retired alert targets prevention of maternal death and highlights the need to manage blood pressure, pay attention to vital signs following cesarean delivery, and hemorrhage. The alert also provides recommendations around educational strategies, identifying specific clinical triggers for action, and conducting adequate risk assessments. As of September 2016, current guidance will be distributed by a new initiative. Please refer to the information link below for further details.
This monthly column reports on an error involving products with similar names (quinine and quinidine) and discusses the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation's recommendations for safe use of patient-controlled analgesia.
Following a swallowing study, a speech pathologist recommends that a patient receive nothing by mouth, due to a high risk of aspiration. However, because the report is misfiled, no NPO order is implemented.
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