Ann D. Gaffey, RN, MSN, CPHRM, DFASHRM is the President of Healthcare Risk and Safety Strategies, LLC. Bruce Spurlock, MD is the President and CEO of Cynosure Health. We spoke with them about their role in the development of the Making Healthcare Safer III Report and what new information they think audiences will find particularly useful and interesting.
McDonald EG, Wu PE, Rashidi B, et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019;67:1843-1850.
This pre–post study compared patients who received medication reconciliation that was usual care at the time of hospital discharge to patients in the intervention arm who had decision support for deprescribing. Although the intervention did lead to more discontinuation of potentially inappropriate medications, there was no difference in adverse drug events between groups. The authors suggest larger studies to elucidate the potential to address medication safety using deprescribing decision support.
Dr. Arora is Director of GME Clinical Learning Environment Innovation and Assistant Dean for Scholarship and Discovery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. We spoke with her about the intersection of health information technology and patient safety.
A woman with new onset chest pain was admitted to the hospital. Although the computer readout of her electrocardiogram stated "***ACUTE MI***" at the top, the nursing assistant who performed the test placed it in the patient's bedside chart without notifying a nurse or physician. The patient was, in fact, having a myocardial infarction, whose treatment was delayed.
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.
Etchells E, Adhikari NKJ, Wu R, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20:924-30.
In this study, clinicians were notified in real time about critical lab test abnormalities and provided with immediate decision support. However, this intervention did not prevent adverse events attributable to the critical test results, nor did it seem to result in more timely management.
Berner ES, Graber ML, eds. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2009;14(suppl 1):1-112.
This supplement consists of 12 articles drawn from a 2008 conference on diagnostic error, covering topics such as medical problem solving, clinical decision making, diagnostic decision support systems, and educational approaches to reducing diagnostic errors.
An electronic system was developed in order to ensure correct assignment of hospitalist physicians to patients at admission and at the time of care transitions (e.g., discharge from the intensive care unit).
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.
Lo HG, Matheny ME, Seger DL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009;16:66-71.
"Alert fatigue" refers to the tendency of clinicians to ignore safety alerts—for example, warnings about potential drug interactions—if alerts are too frequent or perceived to be clinically irrelevant. However, in this study, less intrusive alerts that did not require physician response were not effective at encouraging use of recommended laboratory monitoring.
Jen W-Y, Chao C-C. Int J Med Inform. 2008;77:689-97.
This study discovered that use of mobile patient safety information systems can contribute to improvement in services and a reduction in patient risk, but these communication systems may also contribute to physician anxiety.
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.
Several days after a patient’s surgery, preliminary wound cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus. Although the final sensitivity profile for the cultures showed resistance to the antibiotic that the patient was receiving, the care team was not notified and the patient died of sepsis.
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