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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. 

This WebM&M describes two incidences of the incorrect patient being transported from the Emergency Department (ED) to other parts of the hospital for tests or procedures. In one case, the wrong patient was identified before undergoing an unnecessary procedure; in the second case, the wrong patient received an unnecessary chest x-ray. The commentary highlights the consequences of patient transport errors and strategies to enhance the safety of patient transport and prevent transport-related errors.

Chaudhry H, Nadeem S, Mundi R. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2021;479:47-56.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of telehealth across various medical specialties.This systematic review did not identify any differences in patient or surgeon satisfaction or patient-reported outcomes with telehealth for orthopedic care delivery as compared to in-person visits.However, the authors note that the included studies did not adequately capture or report safety endpoints, such as complications or missed diagnoses.
Erkelens DC, Rutten FH, Wouters LT, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:40-45.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment during after-hours care pose serious threats to patient safety. This case-control study compared missed acute coronary syndrome (ACS) cases to other cases with chest discomfort occurring during out-of-hours services in primary care. Predictors of missed ACS included the use of cardiovascular medication, non-retrosternal chest pain, and consultation of the supervising general practitioner.   
Lam BD, Bourgeois FC, Dong ZJ, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:685-694.
Providing patients access to their medical records can improve patient engagement and error identification. A survey of patients and families found that about half of adult patients and pediatric families who perceived a serious mistake in their ambulatory care notes reported it, but identified several barriers to reporting (e.g. no clear reporting mechanism, lack of perceived support).  
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.
Nakhleh RE, Volmar KE, eds. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature; 2019. ISBN: 9783030184636.
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.
Orenstein EW, Ferro DF, Bonafide CP, et al. JAMIA Open. 2019;2(3):392-398.
Handoffs represent a vulnerable time for patients when lapses in communication may adversely impact safety. Prior research has shown that medication errors occur frequently among patients transferred from ICU to non-ICU locations within the same hospital. In this qualitative study, physicians reviewed transfer notes and handoff documents for 50 patients transferred from a pediatric ICU to a medical unit. They found clinically relevant differences between the handoff and transfer note documentation in 42% of the transfers and conclude that such discrepancies are both common and place patient safety at risk. A previous WebM&M commentary described an adverse event related to a patient handoff.
Pandya C, Clarke T, Scarsella E, et al. J Oncol Pract. 2019;15:e480-e489.
Care transitions and handoffs represent a vulnerable time for patients, as failure to communicate important clinical information may occur with the potential for harm. In this pre–post study, researchers found that implementation of an electronic health record tool designed to improve the handoff between oncology clinic and infusion nurses was associated with a reduction in medication errors, shorter average patient waiting time, and better communication between nurses.
Herlihy M, Harcourt K, Fossa A, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2019;134:128-137.
Prior research has shown that when patients have access to clinicians' notes, they may identify relevant safety concerns. In this study, 9550 obstetrics and gynecology patients were provided with access to their outpatient visit documentation. Almost 70% of eligible patients read one or more notes during the study period, but only 3.2% shared feedback through 232 electronic reports. Of patients who provided feedback, 27% identified errors in the documentation; provider reviewers determined that 75% of these could impact care.
Transferred to the emergency department from the transfusion center after becoming unresponsive and hypotensive, an elderly man with signs of sepsis is given incomplete and delayed antimicrobial coverage due to a history of penicillin allergy. Neither gram-negative nor anaerobic coverage were provided until several hours later, and the patient developed septic shock.
Dr. Brice is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina. She also serves as the Program Director for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellowship and was past-president of the National Association of EMS Physicians. We spoke with her about her experience working in emergency medical systems and safety concerns particular to this field.
Hochman M, Bourgoin A, Saluja S, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2019. AHRQ Publication No. 18(19)-0055-EF.
Programs are in place to address hospital discharge process gaps that contribute to readmissions. This report summarizes research on primary care perspectives on reducing readmissions. Interventions identified include automated alerting to primary care providers when patients are hospitalized and the patient-centered medical home model.
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.
Seen in the emergency department, a man with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus had not taken insulin for 3 days. His blood glucose levels were in the 800s with an anion-gap acidosis and positive beta hydroxybutyrate. While awaiting an ICU bed for treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis, the patient received fluids, an insulin drip was started, and blood glucose levels were monitored hourly. When lab results showed he was improving, the team decided to convert his insulin drip to subcutaneous long-acting insulin.
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.
Artis KA, Bordley J, Mohan V, et al. Crit Care Med. 2019;47:403-409.
Reporting complete patient information during clinical rounds is important for achieving an accurate diagnosis and informing clinical management. Prior research has shown that data is sometimes omitted or inaccurately communicated on rounds. This observational study compared patient data shared by trainees and medical students on ICU rounds to that contained within the electronic health record. Researchers analyzed photocopies of trainee and student notes as well as audio recordings of their oral presentations. For the 157 patient presentations included in the study, they found all contained data omissions and that other team members on rounds supplemented a minimal amount of data missing from student and trainee presentations. The authors recommend additional oversight and education of trainees with regard to data presented on rounds.
To transfer a man with possible sepsis to a hospital with subspecialty and critical care, a physician was unaware of a formal protocol and called a colleague at the academic medical center. The colleague secured a bed, and the patient was sent over. However, neither clinical data nor the details of the patient's current condition were transmitted to the hospital's transfer center, and the receiving physician booked a general ward bed rather than an ICU bed. When the patient arrived, his mentation was altered and breathing was rapid.