Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; June 2022.
Handoffs between prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) providers and hospital emergency departments (EDs) can be suboptimal, which increases patient harm potential. This interim report examines National Health Service discharge delays. It suggests a systemic approach is needed to address flow and capacity factors that contribute to ineffective and unsafe interfacility discharge and transfer.
Falk A-C, Nymark C, Göransson KE, et al. Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2022:103276.
Needed nursing care that is delayed, partially completed, or not completed at all is known as missed nursing care (MNC). Researchers surveyed critical care registered nurses during two phases of the COVID-19 pandemic about recent missed nursing care, perceived quality of care, and contributing factors. There were no major changes in the types of, or reasons for, MNC compared to the reference survey completed in fall 2019.
Lazzara EH, Simonson RJ, Gisick LM, et al. Ergonomics. 2022;65:1138-1153.
Structured handoffs support appropriate communication between teams or departments when transferring responsibility for care. This meta-analysis aimed to determine if structured, standardized post-operative anesthesia handoffs improved provider, patient, organizational and handoff outcomes. Postoperative outcomes moved in a generally positive direction when compared with non-standardized handoffs. The authors suggest additional research into pre- and intra-operative handoffs is needed.
Vollam S, Gustafson O, Morgan L, et al. Crit Care Med. 2022;50:1083-1092.
This mixed-method study explored the reasons why out-of-hours discharges from the ICU to the ward, and nighttime coverage are associated with poor outcomes. Based on qualitative interviews with patients, family members, and staff involved in the ICU discharge process, this study found that out-of-hours discharges are considered unsafe due to nighttime staffing levels and skill mix. Out-of-hours discharges often occurred prematurely, without adequate handovers, and involved patients who were not physiologically stable, and at risk for clinical deterioration.
Bourne RS, Jennings JK, Panagioti M, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:609-622.
Patients transferring from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the hospital ward may experience medication errors. This systematic review examined medication-related interventions on the impact of medication errors in ICU patients transferring to the hospital ward. Seventeen studies were included with five identified intervention components. Multi-component studies based on staff education and guidelines were effective at achieving almost four times more deprescribing on inappropriate medications by the time of discharge. Recommendations for improving transfers are included.
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.
Hyvämäki P, Kääriäinen M, Tuomikoski A-M, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:210-224.
Previous studies have demonstrated health information exchanges (HIE) can improve the quality and safety of care by improving diagnostic concordance and reducing medication errors. This review synthesizes physicians’ and nurses’ perspectives on patient safety related to use of HIE in interorganizational care transitions. Several advantages of and challenges with HIE are detailed.
Blume KS, Dietermann K, Kirchner‐Heklau U, et al. Health Serv Res. 2021;56:885-907.
Nurse staffing levels have been shown to impact patient outcomes. Through an umbrella literature review and expert interviews, researchers developed a list of nurse-sensitive patient outcomes (NSPO). This list provides researchers potential avenues for future studies examining the link between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes.
Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
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.
von Vogelsang A‐C, Göransson KE, Falk A‐C, et al. J Nurs Manag. 2021;29:2343-2352.
Incomplete nursing care can be detrimental to care quality and patient safety. This cross-sectional survey of nurses in Sweden at one acute care hospital did not identify significant differences in missed nursing care before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors posit that these results may be attributed to maintaining nurse-patient ratios, sufficient nursing skill mix, and patient mix.
Scantlebury A, Sheard L, Fedell C, et al. Digit Health. 2021;7:205520762110100.
Electronic health record (EHR) downtime can disrupt patient care and increase risk for medical errors. Semi-structured interviews with healthcare staff and leadership at one large hospital in England illustrate the negative consequences of a three-week downtime of an electronic pathology system on patient experience and safety. The authors propose recommendations for hospitals to consider when preparing for potential technology downtimes.
Longhini J, Papastavrou E, Efstathiou G, et al. J Nurs Manag. 2021;29:572-583.
This international qualitative study explored strategies employed by nurse managers and directors to prevent missed nursing care. Most strategies, including staffing ratios, communication, and empowering nurse leaders, required complex interventions at the system level, indicating missed nursing care is not merely a nursing issue. Nurse managers play a key role in implementing strategies at the nursing and hospital level.
Lurvey LD, Fassett MJ, Kanter MH. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:288-295.
High reliability organizations encourage staff to self-report errors and hazards for comprehensive review and improvement. Three hospitals in one health system implemented a voluntary error reporting system for clinicians to report their own and others’ clinical errors. Although only 5% of reported errors were physician self-reports, there were still benefits: it captured novel errors, provided a safe space to report those errors, and encouraged secondary insights into causes of the errors.
van Heesch G, Frenkel J, Kollen W, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;47:234-241.
Poor handoff communication can threaten patient safety. In this study set in the Netherlands, pediatric residents were asked to develop a contingency plan for patients received during handoffs and asked to recall information from that handoff five hours later. Results indicate that engaging in deliberate cognitive processing during handoffs resulted in better understanding of patients’ problems, which could contribute to improved patient safety.
Volpi E, Giannelli A, Toccafondi G, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e143-e148.
Medication errors are a common and significant causes of patient harm. This retrospective study examined regional prescription registry (RPR) data at a single Italian hospital at 4 comparison points, pre-admission, admission, hospitalization, and post-discharge. Researchers identified 4,363 discrepancies among 14,573 prescriptions originating from 298 patients with a mean age of 71.2 years. Approximately one third of the discrepancies (1,310) were classified as unintentional and the majority (62.1%) of those were found when comparing the prescriptions during the transition from hospital discharge and the 9-month follow up. The study points to the need for enhanced communication between hospitalists and primary care providers at the hospital-home interface.
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.
Hensgens RL, El Moumni M, IJpma FFA, et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2020;46:1367-1374.
Missed injuries and delayed diagnoses are an ongoing problem in trauma care. This cohort study conducted at a large trauma center found that inter-hospital transfer of severely injured patients increases the risk of delayed detection of injuries. For half of these patients, the new diagnoses led to a change in treatment course. These findings highlight the importance of clinician vigilance when assessing trauma patients.
Kannampallil T, Lew D, Pfeifer EE, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:755-763.
Prior research has found that intraoperative anesthesia handovers can increase patient morbidity and mortality. However, this retrospective cohort study, focused on pediatric surgical patients treated, found that intraoperative anesthesia handovers were not associated with adverse postoperative outcomes.
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