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Redley B, Douglas T, Hoon L, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2022;Epub Jul 7.
Frontline care providers such as nurses play an important role in reducing preventable harm. This study used qualitative methods (direct observation and participatory workshops) to explore nurses’ experiences implementing harm prevention practices when admitting an older adult to the hospital. Researchers identified barriers (e.g., lack of resources, information gaps) and enablers (e.g., teamwork, reminders) to harm prevention during the admission process.
Redley B, Taylor N, Hutchinson AM. J Adv Nurs. 2022;Epub Apr 22.
Nurses play a critical role in reducing preventable harm among inpatients. This cross-sectional survey of nurses working in general medicine wards identified both enabling factors (behavioral regulation, perceived capabilities, and environmental context/resources) and barriers (intentions, perceived consequences, optimism, and professional role) to implementing comprehensive harm prevention programs for older adult inpatients.
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.
Hada A, Coyer F. Nurs Health Sci. 2021;23:337-351.
Safe patient handover from one nursing shift to the next requires complete and accurate communication between nurses. This review aimed to identify which nursing handover interventions result in improved patient outcomes (i.e., patient falls, pressure injuries, medication administration errors). Interventions differed across the included studies, but results indicate that moving the handover to the bedside and using a structured approach, such as Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) improved patient outcomes.
McHugh MD, Aiken LH, Sloane DM, et al. The Lancet. 2021;397:1905-1913.
While research shows that better nurse staffing ratios are associated with improved patient outcomes, policies setting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals are rarely implemented. In 2016, select Queensland (Australia) hospitals implemented minimum nurse staffing ratios. Compared to hospitals that did not implement minimum nurse staffing ratios, length of stay, mortality, and readmission rates were significantly lower in intervention hospitals, providing evidence, once again, that minimum staffing ratios can improve patient outcomes. 
Thomas J, Dahm MR, Li J, et al. Health Expect. 2021;24:222-233.
Missed or failure to follow up on test results threatens patient safety. This qualitative study used volunteers to explore consumer perspectives related to test result management. Participants identified several challenges that patients experience with test-results management, including systems-level factors related to the emergency department and patient-level factors impacting understanding of test results.
Manias E, Bucknall T, Hughes C, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2019;19:95.
Transitions of care represent a vulnerable time for patients. Older adults in particular may experience a variety of challenges related to such transitions, including managing changes to their medications. This systematic review suggests that there is significant opportunity for health care providers to improve family engagement in managing medications of elderly patients during care transitions.
Wood C, Chaboyer W, Carr P. Int J Nurs Stud. 2019;94:166-178.
Early detection of patient deterioration remains an elusive patient safety target. This scoping review examined how nurses employ early warning scoring systems that prompt them to call rapid response teams. Investigators identified 23 studies for inclusion. Barriers to effective identification and treatment of patient deterioration included difficulty implementing early warning score systems, overreliance on numeric risk scores, and inconsistent activation of rapid response teams based on early warning score results. They recommend that nurses follow scoring algorithms that calculate risk for deterioration while supplementing risk scoring with their clinical judgment from the bedside. A WebM&M commentary highlighted how early recognition of patient deterioration requires not only medical expertise but also collaboration and communication among providers.
Almanasreh E, Moles R, Chen TF. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016;82:645-658.
Accurate medication reconciliation has been shown to improve patient safety across multiple care settings, yet barriers to implementation persist. This systematic review found significant variation across studies in how medication discrepancies were identified and classified. Researchers suggest that the use of a standardized taxonomy would better facilitate efforts to mitigate medication discrepancies and improve patient safety.
Redley B, Bucknall TK, Evans S, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2016;28:573-579.
Efforts to improve the safety of handoffs have focused on standardizing the signout process. In this mixed methods study, researchers observed 185 anesthetist-to-nurse handoffs from the operating room to the postanesthesia care unit across 3 hospitals. They then conducted focus groups to better understand aspects of safe handoff practices. This work led to the development of a more standardized handoff structure.
Mekonnen AB, McLachlan AJ, Brien J-AE. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016;41:128-144.
Medication reconciliation was initially established as a National Patient Safety Goal in 2005. This systematic review included 19 studies that supported the positive impact of pharmacy-led medication reconciliation on decreasing discrepancies during hospital admission and discharge.
Gillies D, Chicop D, O'Halloran P. Crisis. 2015;36:316-324.
This study used root cause analysis to identify underlying causes of suicide among mental health service clients. Researchers found that most patients had denied suicidal ideation and had missed follow-up in their mental health care. Their results underscore the challenge of preventing suicide in patients with mental illness.
Braaf S, Riley R, Manias E. J Clin Nurs. 2015;24:1874-1884.
This qualitative study of communication among providers in perioperative care revealed a reliance on written documentation, which was often difficult to find or missing key information, rather than verbal signout. This finding underscores the importance of structured, verbal handoffs to ensure adequate provider communication.
Gardiner TM, Marshall AP, Gillespie BM. Aust Crit Care. 2015;28:226-34.
Structured information transfer can reduce communication errors and augment the handoff process. Exploring standardized handovers between the operating room and the intensive care unit, this commentary found the evidence base to be limited and calls for more studies to expand the understanding of how structured communication methods affect postoperative handover.
Callen J, Giardina TD, Singh H, et al. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17:e60.
Providing test results directly to patients is one way in which enhanced patient engagement could improve safety, as failure to appropriately follow up on test results is a recognized cause of diagnostic errors. Accomplishing this will require endorsement from physicians, and this survey examines the attitudes of Australian emergency physicians regarding direct provision of test results to patients. The majority of physicians expressed discomfort with patients having direct access to test results, mainly because physicians feared patients would experience undue anxiety or lack the knowledge necessary to interpret the results. More physicians supported providing patients with direct access to normal test results than abnormal test results, mirroring the findings of a prior survey of primary care providers. Physicians were more supportive of direct release of test results if it would decrease their own workload. The results of this survey reveal the need for careful exploration of the best methods to increase patient engagement without disregarding clinicians' concerns. A previous AHRQ WebM&M interview with Dave deBronkart discussed allowing patients to access their medical records.
Lee H, Cumin D, Devcich DA, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2015;71:160-8.
This educational experiment randomized nurses to view varying versions of handoff videos. In the recorded handovers, information was transferred either as a simple statement, as spoken information that conveyed concern, as a simple statement with a written summary, or verbally with expressions of concern and a written summary. Researchers found that these factors (expressing concern or referring to a written summary) did not affect information retention, suggesting that other approaches, including standardized communication, may be more useful to improve handoffs.
Callen JL, Westbrook JI, Georgiou A, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2011;27:1334-1348.
Following up test results in a timely fashion is a recognized patient safety problem in primary care, and inadequate follow-up systems are a source of frustration for outpatient clinicians and a relatively common source of malpractice claims. This systematic review found evidence that failure to act on abnormal radiology or laboratory results is common and clearly linked to missed or delayed diagnoses. The review also found wide variation in processes for handling test results across studies. Electronic health records (EHRs) did appear to improve test follow-up rates, although a substantial proportion of abnormal results were not followed up even with EHRs. The authors advocate for more standardized processes for informing patients of abnormal results, and recent guidelines have been published for organizational policies to improve test result communication.
Lu CY, Roughead E. Int J Clin Pract. 2011;65:733-40.
Poor care coordination has been shown to be a risk factor for preventable errors in the ambulatory setting, and patients consistently voice concern about care coordination problems. This survey, which builds on prior Commonwealth Fund reports, found that care coordination was a major determinant of patient-reported medication errors in all seven countries studied. The study reinforces the role of health systems in ambulatory patient safety, and the need for improved communication between providers and better integration of health systems to reduce preventable errors for outpatients.
Shafiq J, Barton M, Noble D, et al. Radiother Oncol. 2009;92:15-21.
Radiation oncology is one of the more technologically sophisticated fields in medicine, requiring close collaboration between physicians, technologists, and medical physicists. High-profile errors in this field have been attributed to rapidly changing technology and human factors, and this review sought to characterize the types and frequency of errors and near misses in routine radiotherapy practice using data from voluntary error databases as well as published literature. Although the overall incidence of errors appears low, most reported errors were considered preventable, as they occurred due to faulty information transfer. The authors discuss the types of errors that may occur at each stage of radiotherapy and recommend error prevention strategies.