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.
Richmond RT, McFadzean IJ, Vallabhaneni P. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001142.
Timely completion of discharge summaries can improve handoffs with outpatient physicians and ensure communication of potential patient safety problems. This quality improvement project used an established change model to improve the rate of discharge summary completed within 24 hours from less than 10%, to 84% within 2 months.
Tyler N, Wright N, Panagioti M, et al. Health Expect. 2021;24:185-194.
Transitions of care represent a vulnerable time for patients. This survey found that safety in mental healthcare transitions (hospital to community) is perceived differently by patients, families, and healthcare professionals. While clinical indicators (e.g., suicide, self-harm, and risk of adverse drug events) are important, patients and families also highlighted the social elements of transitional safety (e.g., loneliness, emotional readiness for change).
Chaudhry H, Nadeem S, Mundi R. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2021;479:47-56.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of telehealth across various medical specialties.This systematic review did not identify any differences in patient or surgeon satisfaction or patient-reported outcomes with telehealth for orthopedic care delivery as compared to in-person visits.However, the authors note that the included studies did not adequately capture or report safety endpoints, such as complications or missed diagnoses.
Coulthard P, Thomson P, Dave M, et al. Br Dent J. 2020;229:743-747; 801-805.
The COVID-19 pandemic suspended routine dental care. This two-part series discusses the clinical challenges facing the provision of routine dental care during the pandemic (Part 1) and the medical, legal, and economic consequences of withholding or delaying dental care (Part 2).
Ferrara G, De Vincentiis L, Ambrosini-Spaltro A, et al. Am J Clin Pathol. 2021;155:64-68.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to patients delaying or forgoing necessary health care. Comparing the same 10-week period in 2018, 2019 and 2020, researchers used data from seven hospitals in northern-central Italy to assess the impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnoses. Compared to prior years, cancer diagnoses overall fell by 45% in 2020. Researchers noted the largest decrease in cancer diagnoses among skin, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers.
Lindblad M, Unbeck M, Nilsson L, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20:289.
This study used a trigger tool to retrospectively identify and characterize no-harm incidents affecting adult patients in home healthcare settings in Sweden. The most common incidents identified by the trigger tool were falls without injury, medication management incidents, and moderate pain. Common contributing factors included delayed, erroneous, or incomplete nursing care and treatment.
Pfeiffer Y, Zimmermann C, Schwappach DLB. J Patient Saf. 2020;Publish Ahead of Print.
This study examined patient safety issues stemming from health information technology (HIT)-related information management hazards. The authors identified eleven thematic groups describing such hazards occurring at a systemic level, such as fragmentation of patient information, “information islands” (e.g., nurses and physicians have separate information sets despite the same HIT system), and inadequate information structures (e.g., no drug interaction warning integrated in the chemotherapy prescribing tool).
Malterud K, Aamland A, Fosse A. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2020;38.
Using qualitative analysis, this study explored the experiences of general practitioners in Norway with horizontal task shifting (defined as tasks shifted between equivalent professionals, such as hospital specialists and other specialists) and whether task shifting increased patient safety risks. The study identified several types of adverse events associated with horizontal task shifting, such as delays in diagnosis, overdiagnosis, and reduced access to care.
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.
Dinsdale E, Hannigan A, O'Connor R, et al. Fam Pract. 2019.
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.
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.
Müller M, Jürgens J, Redaèlli M, et al. BMJ Open. 2018;8:e022202.
Standardized handoff tools are increasingly implemented to improve communication between health care providers. Although this systematic review identified several studies supporting the use of SBAR as a communication tool to improve patient safety, the authors suggest the evidence is moderate and that further research is needed.
Past studies have explored the impact of nurse and clinician workload on the quality of care. In this study, researchers examined how general practitioners and administrative staff across eight United Kingdom practices work together to fill prescription requests and manage test results.
Grant S, Checkland K, Bowie P, et al. Implement Sci. 2017;12:56.
Test result management is a critical aspect of ambulatory patient safety. This direct observation study identified highly variable strategies across outpatient practices with different vulnerabilities. These results underscore the need to develop interventions to enhance management of test results.
Behrman S, Wilkinson P, Lloyd H, et al. Age Ageing. 2017;46:518-521.
Patients with dementia have complex medical and caregiving needs, and they are at risk for adverse events. This qualitative interview study of caregivers and health care workers identified medication errors, lack of communication among care team members, and caregiver stress as key patient safety concerns for patients with dementia. The authors emphasize the tradeoffs between risk of harm and patient autonomy.
Roter DL, Wolff J, Wu A, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:508-512.
Effective team communication is a key component of safe care. This commentary discusses the role of patient–family partnerships in enhancing health care safety in ambulatory and home settings. The authors describe a communication intervention to improve patient and family collaboration during ambulatory care visits. Components of the approach included engaging family participation in routine visits and coaching them to ask questions.
Bowie P, Price J, Hepworth N, et al. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e008968.
This retrospective study of abnormal laboratory test orders and results in primary care uncovered multiple vulnerabilities, similar to prior studies. The authors describe a conceptual model to comprehensively address the safety of laboratory testing and results management in primary care, a useful step for future interventions.
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