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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Miller AC, Arakkal AT, Koeneman S, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11:e045605.
Delayed diagnosis is a critical patient safety concern. This cohort study, consisting of 3,500 patients with tuberculosis (TB) over a 17-year period, found that more than three-quarters of patients experienced at least one missed opportunity for a diagnosis in the year before they were finally diagnosed with TB. The average duration of the diagnostic delay was nearly 32 days. Missed opportunities occurred most commonly in outpatient settings. A previous WebM&M commentary discusses patient harm resulting from a missed TB diagnosis.
Reeves JJ, Ayers JW, Longhurst CA. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23:e24785.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an extraordinary increase in the use of telehealth. This article discusses unintended consequences of telehealth and outlines guidance to assist health care providers in determining the appropriateness of a telehealth visit.
Dadlez NM, Adelman J, Bundy DG, et al. Ped Qual Saf. 2020;5:e299-e305.
Diagnostic errors, including missed diagnoses of adolescent depression, elevated blood pressure, and delayed response to abnormal lab results, are common in pediatric primary care. Building upon previous work, this study used root cause analyses to identify the failure points and contributing factors to these errors. Omitted process steps included failure to screen for adolescent depression, failure to recognize and act on abnormal blood pressure values, and failure to notify families of abnormal lab results. Factors contributing most commonly to these errors were patient volume, inadequate staffing, clinic environment, electronic and written communication, and provider knowledge.
Vyas DA, Eisenstein LG, Jones DS. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(9):874-882.
Physicians commonly use diagnostic algorithms and practice guidelines to individualize risk assessment and guide clinical decisions. The authors discuss the possible dangers of using race-adjusted algorithms due to their potential to lead to diagnostic errors and delays in care.
Herledan C, Baudouin A, Larbre V, et al. Support Care Cancer. 2020;28:3557-3569.
This systematic review synthesizes the evidence from 14 studies on medication reconciliation in cancer patients. While the majority of studies did not include a contemporaneous comparison group, they did report that medication reconciliation led to medication error identification (most frequently drug omissions, additions or dosage errors) in up to 88-95% of patients.
Prior research has found poor communication between hospital-based and primary care physicians and has suggested that this may contribute to medical errors. This systematic review included 19 studies assessing the transfer of information at hospital discharge between hospital-based and primary care providers (PCPs), or evaluating interventions aimed at improving the timeliness and quality of discharge information. The review found that timely communication of discharge summaries was low, with 55% (median) transferred to PCPs within 48 hours and 85% (median) within 4-weeks; 8.5% of discharge summaries were never transferred. Discharge summaries nearly always contained patient demographics, admission/discharge dates and primary diagnoses, but less frequently included pending test results, diagnostic tests performed and discharge medications.
Omar A, Rees P, Cooper A, et al. Arch Dis Child. 2020;105:731-777.
Using a national database of patient safety incident reports in the United Kingdom, this study characterized primary care-related incidents among vulnerable children and used thematic analysis to identify priority areas for systems improvement. Over 1,100 incident reports were identified; nearly half resulted in some degree of harm but most (39%) were considered ‘low harm.’ Children with protection-related vulnerabilities experienced harm from unsafe care more frequently than children with social-, psychological, or physical vulnerabilities. The authors identified system priority action areas to mitigate harm among vulnerable children, including improving provider access to accurate information and reducing delays in provider referrals.
Lacson R, Healey MJ, Cochon LR, et al. J Am Coll Radiol. 2020;17:765-772.
Radiological exams are often ordered but go unscheduled, which can delay diagnoses and lead to other medical errors. In this retrospective study at one academic institution, the clinical necessity of 700 unscheduled radiologic examination orders (100 from each of seven different radiographic modalities) was examined. Study results indicate that, except for CT, obstetric ultrasound and fluoroscopy radiologic tests, the majority of unscheduled orders are clinically necessary and that 7% of all radiologic examination orders remain unscheduled a month or more after the order was placed.
Williams S, Fiumara K, Kachalia A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2020;46:44-50.
A lack of closed-loop feedback systems has been identified as one contributor to underreporting of patient safety events. This paper describes one large academic medical center’s implementation of a Feedback to Reporter program in ambulatory care, which aimed to ensure feedback on safety reports is provided to reporting staff by managers. At baseline, 50% of staff who requested feedback ultimately received it; after three years, the rate of feedback to reporters had increased to 90%.
Dinsdale E, Hannigan A, O’Connor R, et al. Fam Pract. 2019;17:63-68.
Clear communication between primary care physicians and the providers to whom they refer patients has important implications for achieving accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans for patients. In this observational study, researchers included 6603 patients from 68 general medical practices in Ireland, randomly selecting 100 patients from each practice and excluding patients without complete records. They analyzed referral documentation and responses received from subspecialists as well as discharge summaries from hospitalizations over a 2-year period, compared with established national standards. Although 82% of referral letters included current medications, only 30% of response letters and discharge summaries contained medication changes and 33% had medication lists. The authors conclude that significant communication gaps exist between primary and secondary care and that further research is needed to understand how to address them. A past PSNet perspective discussed challenges associated with care transitions.
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.
Desai S, Fiumara K, Kachalia A. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e84-e90.
Outpatient safety is gaining recognition as a focus of research and improvement efforts. This project report describes an ambulatory safety program at an academic health system that targeted reporting, safety culture measurement, medication safety, and test result management. Repeated tracking over a 5-year period revealed that failure to request feedback played a role in the modest incident and concern reporting captured by the program. Decentralizing reporting response responsibilities throughout the system significantly increased feedback activity.
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