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Admitted to the oncology service for chemotherapy treatment, a woman with leukemia was noted to be neutropenic on hospital day 6. She had some abdominal discomfort and had not had a bowel movement for 2 days. The overnight physician ordered a suppository without realizing that the patient was neutropenic and immunosuppressed. Unaware that suppositories are contraindicated in neutropenic patients, the nurse administered the suppository.
While attempting to order a CT scan with only oral contrast for a patient with poor kidney function, an intern ordering a CT for the first time selected "with contrast" from the list, not realizing that meant both oral and intravenous contrast. The patient developed contrast nephropathy.
Staggers N, Clark L, Blaz JW, et al. Health Informatics J. 2011;17:209-23.
By enhancing providers' ability to transmit information in a concise and standardized fashion, electronic medical records (EMR) offer great promise for improving handoffs and signouts. However, this analysis of nursing handoffs at an institution with a commercial EMR found that the built-in patient summaries provided inadequate detail and flexibility for clinical signout purposes, forcing nurses to develop workarounds for transmitting key information. This finding reveals the importance of human factors engineering in designing information technology solutions for patient safety problems.
Lee JY, Leblanc K, Fernandes OA, et al. Ann Pharmacother. 2010;44:1887-95.
This study found that 62% of patients transferred between units during a hospitalization had at least one unintentional medication discrepancy. The most common discrepancy was medication omission, independent of which system was used (e.g., paper versus computerized).
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.

Healthc Q. 2006;9 Spec No:1-140.

This special issue describes projects and research in Canadian health care that are supporting improvements in patient safety.
After an admitting physician bases the dosages of medication on an outdated electronic medication list, the patient's heart nearly stops.