The AHRQ PSNet Collection comprises an extensive selection of resources relevant to the patient safety community. These resources come in a variety of formats, including literature, research, tools, and Web sites. Resources are identified using the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database, various news and content aggregators, and the expertise of the AHRQ PSNet editorial and technical teams.
Svedahl ER, Pape K, Austad B, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Dec 15.
Inappropriate referrals and unnecessary hospital admissions are ongoing patient safety problems. This cohort study set in Norway examined the impact of emergency physician referral thresholds from out-of-hours services on patient outcomes.
Premature diagnostic closure, also called anchoring bias, relies on initial diagnostic impression without continuing to explore differential diagnoses. This commentary proposes a cognitive forcing strategy of “endpoint diagnosis,” or continuing to ask “why” until additional diagnostic evaluations have been exhausted. The authors describe four common contexts when endpoint diagnoses are not pursued or reached.
Ahmajärvi K, Isoherranen K, Venermo M. BMJ Open. 2022;12:e062673.
Diagnostic errors continue to be a source of patient harm. This retrospective study identified patient- and organizational-level factors contributing to misdiagnosis of chronic wounds in primary care. Less than half of patients referred from primary care to specialist wound care teams had the correct diagnosis. Notably, 36% of patients who presented to primary care had signs of infection, however 61% received antibiotics, raising concerns of antibiotic overuse.
Pagani K, Lukac D, Olbricht SM, et al. Arch Dermatol Res. 2022;Epub Nov 10.
Delayed referrals from primary care providers to specialty care can lead to delayed diagnoses and patient harm. This retrospective analysis examined differences in timely versus delayed referrals for urgent skin cancer evaluations at one institution. Among 320 referrals occurring in 2018, 38% of evaluations occurred 31 days or more after the referral and nearly 11% of referrals were never completed. Delayed referrals were more common among patients who did not speak English and racial/ethnic minorities.
Pitts SI, Yang Y, Thomas BA, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2022;29:2101-2104.
The CancelRx tool is designed to improve communication between electronic health record (EHR) systems and pharmacy dispensing software. However, interoperability issues can limit the tool’s usefulness and result in inadvertent dispensing of discontinued medications. This evaluation of discontinued medications at one health systems over a one-month period found that only one-third to one-half of discontinued medications were e-prescribed using the same EHR system and would result in a CancelRx message to the pharmacy; the remainder of discontinued medications were patient-reported or reconciled from outside sources.
Roberts TJ, Sellars MC, Sands JM, et al. JCO Oncol Pract. 2022;18:833-839.
Missed diagnosis of infectious diseases can have serious consequences for patient safety. This article describes a delayed diagnosis of disseminated tuberculosis in a patient with lung cancer and discusses the how cognitive biases and systems failures contributed to the diagnostic error.
Clayton DA, Eguchi MM, Kerr KF, et al. Med Decis Making. 2023;43:164-174.
Metacognition (e.g., when one reflects on one’s own decision and decision making) is an approach to reducing diagnostic errors. Using data from the Melanoma Pathology Study (M-PATH) and Breast Pathology Study (B-PATH), researchers assed pathologists’ metacognition by examining their diagnostic accuracy and self-confidence. Results showed pathologists with increased metacognition sensitivity were more likely to request a second opinion for incorrect diagnosis than they were for a correct diagnosis.
Watson J, Salisbury C, Whiting PF, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2022;72:e747-e754.
Failure to communicate blood test results to patients may result in delayed diagnosis or treatment. In this study, UK primary care patients and general practitioners (GPs) were asked about their experiences with the communication of blood test results. Patients and GPs both expected the other to follow up on results and had conflicting experiences with the method of communication (e.g., phone call, text message).
Zimolzak AJ, Singh H, Murphy DR, et al. BMJ Health Care Inform. 2022;29(1):e100565.
Patient safety algorithms developed through research must also be implemented into clinical practice. This article describes the process of translating an electronic health record-based algorithm for detecting missed follow-up of colorectal or lung cancer testing, from research into practice. All 12 test sites were able to successfully implement the trigger and identify appropriate cases.
Buitrago I, Seidl KL, Gingold DB, et al. J Healthc Qual. 2022;44:169-177.
Reducing hospital 30-day readmissions is seen as a way to improve safety and reduce costs. Baltimore City mobile integrated health and community paramedicine (MIH-CP) was designed to improve transitional care from hospital to home. After one year in operation, MIH-CP performed a chart review to determine causes of readmission among patients in the program. Root cause analysis indicated that at least one social determinant of health (e.g., health literacy) played a role in preventable readmissions; the program was modified to improve transitional care.
Meyer AND, Scott TMT, Singh H. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5:e228568.
Delayed communication of abnormal test results can contribute to diagnostic and treatment delays, patient harm, and malpractice claims. The Department of Veterans Affairs specifies abnormal test results be communicated to the patient within seven days if treatment is required, and within 14 days if no treatment is required. In the first full year of the program, 71% of abnormal test results and 80% of normal test results were communicated to the patient within the specified timeframes. Performance varied by facility and type of test.
Domingo J, Galal G, Huang J. NEJM Catalyst. 2022;3.
Failure to follow up on abnormal diagnostic test results can cause delays in patients receiving appropriate care. This hospital used an artificial intelligence natural language processing system to identify radiology reports requiring follow-up. The system triggered automated notifications to the patient and ordering provider, and tracked follow-ups to completion. System development, deployment and next steps are detailed.
Root cause analysis is a commonly used tool to identify systems-related factors that contributed to an adverse event. This study assessed a system-based approach, (i.e., collaborative case reviews (CCR) co-led by radiology and an institutional patient safety program) to identify contributing factors and explore the strength of recommended actions in the radiology department at a large academic medical center. Stronger action items, such as standardization of processes, were implemented in 41% of events, and radiology had higher completion rates than other hospital departments.
Nehls N, Yap TS, Salant T, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001603.
Incomplete or delayed referrals from primary care providers to specialty care can cause diagnostic delays and patient harm. A systems engineering analysis was conducted to identify vulnerabilities in the referral process and develop a framework to close the loop between primary and specialty care. Low reliability processes, such as workarounds, were identified and human factors approaches were recommended to improve successful referral rates.
Rajan SS, Baldwin JL, Giardina TD, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:e262-e266.
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology has been most commonly used in perioperative settings to improve patient safety. This study explored whether RFID technology can improve process measures in laboratory settings, such as order tracking, specimen processing, and test result communication. Findings indicate that RFID-tracked orders were more likely to have completed testing process milestones and were completed more quickly.
Poor communication between hospital and primary care providers can lead to adverse events, such as hospital readmission. In this study of older adults who required medication-related follow-up with their primary care provider, the discharging provider only sent an adequate request for 60% of patients. Of those patients that did not have an adequate request, 14% had a related hospital revisit within 6 months.
Montaleytang M, Correard F, Spiteri C, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2021;43:1183-1190.
Previous studies have found that discrepancies between patients’ medication lists and medications they are actually taking are common. This study found that sharing the results of medication reconciliation performed at admission and discharge with patients’ community care providers led to a decrease in medication discrepancies.
Raghuram N, Alodan K, Bartels U, et al. Virchows Archiv. 2021;478:1179-1185.
Autopsies are an important tool for identifying diagnostic errors. This retrospective study of 821 pediatric cancer deaths found that 10% had a major diagnostic discrepancy between antemortem and postmortem diagnoses. These discrepancies primarily consisted of missed infections, missed cancer diagnoses, and organ complications.
Ensuring maternal safety is a patient safety priority. This library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on improving maternal safety. Included resources explore strategies with the potential to improve maternal care delivery and outcomes, such as high reliability, collaborative initiatives, teamwork, and trigger tools.
Carman E-M, Fray M, Waterson P. Appl Ergon. 2021;93:103339.
This study analyzed incident reports, discharge planning meetings, and focus groups with hospital and community healthcare staff to identify barriers and facilitators to safe transitions from hospital to community. Barriers included discharge tasks not being complete, missing or inaccurate information, and limited staff capacity. Facilitators include improved staff capacity and good communication between hospital staff, community healthcare staff, and family members. The authors recommend that hospital and community healthcare staff perspectives be taken into account when designing safe discharge policies.
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