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After a breast mass was identified by a physician assistant during a routine visit, a 60-year-old woman received a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The radiology assessment was challenging due to dense breast tissue and ultimately interpreted as “probably benign” findings. When the patient returned for follow-up 5 months later, the mass had increased in size and she was referred for a biopsy.

Kutikov A, Weinberg DS, Edelman MJ, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2020;172:756-758.
Oncology patients, as with other patients with chronic health care needs, face numerous challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors discuss the need to balance delays in cancer diagnosis or treatment against the harm of COVID-19 exposure, how to mitigate the risk for significant care disruptions associated with social distancing and managing the allocation of limited healthcare resources during this unprecedented pandemic.
Given BA. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2019;35:374-379.
Cancer patients often rely on family members or paid caregivers to assist with care maintenance at home, such as taking medications and mobility support. This review highlights common safety gaps in home cancer care. The authors suggest that nurses can help assess caregiver knowledge and provide education to address safety issues.
Referred to urology for a 5-year history of progressive urinary frequency, nocturnal urination, and difficulty initiating a stream, a man had been reluctant to seek care for his symptoms because his father had a "miserable" experience with treatment for the same condition. A physician assistant saw him at that first visit and ordered a PSA test (despite the patient's expressed views against PSA testing) and cystoscopy (without explaining why it was needed), and urged the patient to self-catheterize (without any instructions on how to do so).
National Pharmacy Association; NPA.
This website for independent community pharmacy owners across the United Kingdom features both free and members-only guidance, reporting platforms, and document templates to support patient safety. It includes reporting tools and incident analysis reports for providers in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Topics covered in the communications include look-alike and sound-alike drugs, patient safety audits, and safe dispensing of liquid medications.
Schwarz CM, Hoffmann M, Schwarz P, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2019;19:158.
Care transitions represent a vulnerable time for patients, especially at the time of hospital discharge. In this systematic review, researchers identified several factors related to discharge summaries that may adversely impact the safety of discharged patients, including delays in sending discharge summaries to outpatient providers as well as missing or low-quality information.
Cheong V-L, Tomlinson J, Khan S, Petty D. Prescriber. 2019;30:29-34.
Geriatric patients are particularly vulnerable to medication-related harm. This article summarizes types of incidents and contributing factors to adverse drug events in older patients after hospital discharge. The authors recommend strategies to reduce medication-related harm, including discharge communication improvements, primary care collaboration, and postdischarge patient education.
Molloy MA, Cary MP, Brennan-Cook J, et al. Home Healthc Now. 2018;36:225-231.
Patient utilization of home care is expected to increase with advances in medical care and health technologies. This commentary presents simulation as a promising tool to develop and assess home care staff skills to improve transitions from acute care to home health care.
Fiscella K, McDaniel SH. Amer Psychol. 2018;73:451-467.
Teamwork is an important element of safe care delivery. This review explores the evidence on the role of teams in ambulatory care, innovations in primary care teamwork models, and barriers to success. The authors offer recommendations to encourage team development in primary care, including defining team competencies, providing team training opportunities specific to ambulatory care, and adjusting care payment mechanisms.
After a motor vehicle collision, a patient with headaches and difficulty concentrating visited the internal medicine clinic. The covering resident diagnosed postconcussive syndrome and prescribed amitriptyline. The patient returned several days later with persistent symptoms. She saw a different resident, who ordered an MRI and referred her to neurology but mistakenly made the referral to the neuromuscular, rather than headache, clinic. With continued severe headaches, the patient returned a third time and saw her primary resident provider, who referred her to the correct neurology clinic.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2016. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0035-2-EF.
Patient safety in ambulatory care is receiving increased attention. This guide includes case studies that explore how Open Notes, team-based care delivery, and patient and family advisory committees have shown promise as patient engagement and safety improvement mechanisms in primary care settings.
Vaughan L, McAlister G, Bell D. Clin Med (Lond). 2011;11:322-326.
This survey of physicians about the UK equivalent of the "July effect"—a tradition of nearly 50,000 new doctors starting on the first Wednesday in August—found a high degree of concern for patient care, safety, and training. The authors conclude that there is a need for structural changes.
A healthy elderly man presented to his primary care doctor—a third-year internal medicine resident—for routine examination. A PSA test was markedly elevated, but the results came back after the resident had graduated, and the alert went unread. Months later, the patient presented with new onset low back pain and was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.
London, UK: Care Quality Commission; October 2009. CQC-039-500-ESP-102009. ISBN: 9781845622442.
This report analyzed how medication information is shared among UK practices and patients after a hospital stay and found that 81% of general practices thought that patient information given to them from hospitals was incomplete or inaccurate.
Dean Schillinger, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Chief of the California Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. His role as a practicing clinician at a safety net hospital (San Francisco General Hospital) has put him in a unique position to pursue influential and relevant research related to health literacy and improving care for vulnerable populations.
Boling PA. Clin Geriatr Med. 2009;25:135-48, viii.
This article reviews the literature on transitions of care, discusses interventions, and suggests that transitional care processes supported by effective home care programs can reduce rehospitalization.
Loren DJ, Klein EJ, Garbutt J, et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162:922-927.
Studies of medical error disclosure have demonstrated that, while physicians support disclosure of errors in theory, most "choose their words carefully" in practice and fail to disclose important elements of the error. In this study, pediatricians were presented with error scenarios and asked to describe what they would disclose to the child's parents. Overall, a minority of physicians would fully disclose the error, and most would not offer an explicit apology. An accompanying editorial discusses barriers to disclosing errors and strategies (including communication training) that should be implemented to improve this aspect of patient–physician communication.