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Healthcare Excellence Canada
This site provides promotional materials for an annual awareness campaign on patient safety that takes place in the autumn. The 2021 observance, focusing on the importance of essential care partners, was held October 25th through 29th.
Nurses play a critical role in patient safety through their constant presence at the patient's bedside. However, staffing issues and suboptimal working conditions can impede a nurse’s ability to detect and prevent adverse events.
Gurwitz JH, Kapoor A, Garber L, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181:610-618.
High-risk medications have the potential to cause serious patient harm if not administered correctly. In this randomized trial, a pharmacist-directed intervention (including in-home assessment by a clinical pharmacist, communication with the primary care team, and telephone follow-up) did not result in a lower rate of adverse drug events or medication errors involving high-risk drug classes during the posthospitalization period.
Lagisetty P, Macleod C, Thomas J, et al. Pain. 2021;162:1379-1386.
Inappropriate prescribing of opioids is a major contributor to the ongoing opioid epidemic. This study involved simulated patients with chronic opioid use who called primary care clinics in need of a new provider because their previous physician had retired or stopped prescribing opioids. Findings indicate that primary care providers were generally unwilling to prescribe opioids to patients whose histories are suggestive of misuse, which may raise access to care concerns and cause potential unintended harm for some patients.  

Halamek LP, ed. Semin Perinatol. 2019;43(8):151172-151182.
 

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a complex environment that serves a vulnerable population at increased risk for harm should errors occur. This special issue draws from a multidisciplinary set of authors to explore patient safety issues arising in the NICU. Included in the issue are articles examining topic such as video assessment, diagnostic error, and human factors engineering in the NICU.
Bloodworth LS, Malinowski SS, Lirette ST, et al. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association: JAPhA. 2019;59:896-904.
Medication reconciliation is one potential strategy for preventing adverse events and readmissions. This study examined a pharmacist-led intervention involving collaborations with inpatient and community-based pharmacists to provide pre-discharge and 30-day medication reconciliation. There were indications that this type of intervention can reduce readmission rates, but further investigation in larger populations is necessary.  
Harrisburg, PA: Patient Safety Authority. ISSN 2641-4716.
The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is a long-established source of patient safety data analysis and application-focused commentary. Their publishing output aims to generate improvements in their state as well as throughout health care. This open-access publication replaces the quarterly Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory newsletter.
Ellis RJ, Schlick CJR, Feinglass J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2020;29:103-112.
This retrospective study of cancer care safety examined the extent to which patients received recommended chemotherapy. A significant proportion of breast, lung, and colorectal cancer patients did not receive chemotherapy; patients who were black and those lacking health insurance or covered by Medicaid were at higher risk. There was marked variability in chemotherapy delivery by location and hospital. The authors conclude that failure to administer chemotherapy is a significant safety gap that should be addressed.
This Primer provides an overview of the history and current status of the patient safety field and key definitions and concepts. It links to other Patient Safety Primers that discuss the concepts in more detail.
Pandya C, Clarke T, Scarsella E, et al. J Oncol Pract. 2019;15:e480-e489.
Care transitions and handoffs represent a vulnerable time for patients, as failure to communicate important clinical information may occur with the potential for harm. In this pre–post study, researchers found that implementation of an electronic health record tool designed to improve the handoff between oncology clinic and infusion nurses was associated with a reduction in medication errors, shorter average patient waiting time, and better communication between nurses.
Given BA. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2019;35:374-379.
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.
Kapoor A, Field T, Handler S, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179:1254-1261.
Transitions from hospitals to long-term care facilities are associated with safety hazards. This prospective cohort study identified adverse events in the 45 days following acute hospitalization among 555 nursing home residents, which included 762 discharges during the study period. Investigators found that adverse events occurred after approximately half of discharges. Common adverse events included falls, pressure ulcers, health care–associated infections, and adverse drug events. Most adverse events were deemed preventable or ameliorable. The authors conclude that improved communication and coordination between discharging hospitals and receiving long term-care facilities are urgently needed to address this patient safety gap. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed challenges of nursing home care that may contribute to adverse events.
McDonald EG, Wu PE, Rashidi B, et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019;67:1843-1850.
This pre–post study compared patients who received medication reconciliation that was usual care at the time of hospital discharge to patients in the intervention arm who had decision support for deprescribing. Although the intervention did lead to more discontinuation of potentially inappropriate medications, there was no difference in adverse drug events between groups. The authors suggest larger studies to elucidate the potential to address medication safety using deprescribing decision support.
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.
Trivedi A, Sharma S, Ajitsaria R, et al. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed. 2019;105:122-126.
Medication reconciliation to ensure accuracy of patient medication lists has been difficult to implement. This project report describes an initiative to enhance the timeliness of medication reconciliation for pediatric inpatients. Use of Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles helped inform the evolution of the work. The authors emphasize the importance of engaging the entire care team as well as patients and families to enable completion of the process.
Redmond P, McDowell R, Grimes TC, et al. BMJ Open. 2019;9:e024747.
This retrospective cohort study of patients age 65 and older on chronic medications found that unintentional medication discontinuation does occur following hospitalization. As with prior studies, medication documentation in hospital discharge summaries remains highly variable.
National Pharmacy Association; NPA.
This website for independent community pharmacy owners across the United Kingdom features both free and members-only guidance, reporting platforms, and document templates to support patient safety. It includes reporting tools and incident analysis reports for providers in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Topics covered in the communications include look-alike and sound-alike drugs, patient safety audits, and safe dispensing of liquid medications.

GMS J Med Educ. 2019;36:Doc11-Doc22.

Patient safety has been described as an unmet need in physician training. This special issue covers areas of focus for a patient safety curriculum drawn from experience in the German medical education system. Topics covered include human error, blame, and responsibility. Articles also review the epidemiology of common problems such as medication safety, organizational contributors to failure, and diagnostic error.
Following catheter-guided thrombolysis for a large saddle pulmonary embolism, a man was monitored in the intensive care unit. The catheters were removed the next day, and the patient was sent from the interventional radiology suite to the postanesthesia care unit, after which he was transferred to a telemetry bed on the stepdown unit. No explicit plan for anticoagulation was discussed with the accepting medical team. Shortly after the nurse found the patient lethargic, tachycardic, and hypoxic, the patient lost his pulse and a code was called.
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.