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Lafferty M, Harrod M, Krein SL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:28(12).
Use of one-way communication technologies, such as pagers, in hospitals have led to workarounds to improve communication. Through observation, shadowing, interviews, and focus groups with nurses and physicians, this study describes antecedents, types, and effects of workarounds and their potential impact on patient safety.
Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality.
Improving teamwork and communication is a continued focus in the hospital setting. This toolkit is designed to help organizations create a culture that embeds teamwork into daily practice routines. Topics covered include team leadership, learning and continuous improvement, clarifying roles, structured communication, and support for raising concerns.
Gupta A, Harrod M, Quinn M, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2018;5:151-156.
This direct observation study of hospitalist teams on rounds and conducting follow-up work examined the interaction between systems problems and cognitive errors in diagnosis. Researchers found that information gaps related to electronic health records, challenges with handoffs, and time constraints all contributed to difficulties in diagnostic cognition. The authors suggest considering both systems and cognitive challenges to diagnosis in order to promote safety.
Matern LH, Farnan JM, Hirsch KW, et al. Simul Healthc. 2018;13:233-238.
Training resident physicians to use structured handoff tools reduces errors in the care of hospitalized patients. Researchers developed a handoff simulation incorporating the types of noise and distractions that are ubiquitous in hospitals. After training, distracted residents provided the same quality handoff as those able to communicate in a quiet place.
Carlile N, Rhatigan JJ, Bates DW. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:24-29.
Despite the ubiquity of smartphones, the vast majority of physicians still rely on one-way pagers for communication. This study analyzed the frequency and content of pages on an internal medicine service at a teaching hospital and compared the data to a similar study performed in 1988. Physicians received an average of 22 pages per day, of which 76% were deemed clinically relevant by independent reviewers and 82% required a response. This represented a nearly 50% increase in the volume of pages compared to 1988. Doctors on regionalized services (where patients were admitted to a common unit) received significantly fewer pages than those caring for patients on nonregionalized services, implying that regionalized services may aid face-to-face communication. As interruptions have been shown to negatively affect patient safety, the authors advocate for developing secure two-way methods of communication (such as secure text messaging) for nurses and physicians in order to improve the efficiency of communication around clinical issues.
Estryn-Behar MR, Milanini-Magny G, Chaumon E, et al. J Patient Saf. 2014;10:29-44.
This direct observation study found that registered nurses, physicians, and nursing aides have frequent interruptions and limited time for shift-change handoffs. This finding suggests that widespread efforts to ensure adequate handoff time and minimize interruptions have not mitigated these problems in hospital settings.
Drawn on a Thursday, basic labs for a 10-year-old girl came back over the weekend showing a high glucose level, but neither the covering physician nor the primary pediatrician saw the results until the patient's mother called on Monday. Upon return to the clinic for follow-up, the child's glucose level was dangerously high and urinalysis showed early signs of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Li SYW, Magrabi F, Coiera E. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012;19:6-12.
Interruptions pose a significant safety hazard for health care providers performing complex tasks, such as signout or medication administration. However, as prior research has pointed out, many interruptions are necessary for clinical care, making it difficult for safety professionals to develop approaches to limiting the harmful effects of interruptions. Reviewing the literature on interruptions from the psychology and informatics fields, this study identifies several key variables that influence the relationship between interruption of a task and patient harm. The authors provide several recommendations, based on human factors engineering principles, to mitigate the effect of interruptions on patient care. A case of an interruption leading to a medication error is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
Rivera-Rodriguez AJ, Karsh B-T. Qual Saf Health Care. 2010;19:304-312.
The majority of individual errors are due to failure to perform automatic or reflexive actions. A major risk factor for these "slips" is being interrupted or distracted while performing a task. This review examined the literature on the incidence, risk factors, and effects of interruptions in several clinical settings, ranging from outpatient clinics to the operating room. Although distractions are common and may be associated with increased risk for error, particularly if they occur during medication administration or signout, the authors point out that many interruptions may be necessary to communicate urgent clinical information. They argue for complexity theory–based research to delineate the harmful and beneficial aspects of interruptions, rather than for interventions that seek to simply eliminate interruptions. Checklists have been widely adopted as a means of preventing errors of omission, which may be precipitated by interruptions.
Failure to enter documentation of a DNR order causes a severely ill elderly man to be resuscitated against his wishes. Shortly thereafter, the patient's wife confirms his wishes, and within minutes, the patient dies.
A nurse notices that an IV medication she is about to administer is possibly mislabeled, as it looks like a different drug. However, she is interrupted before she can call the pharmacy and winds up hanging the bag anyway.
Due to a series of incomplete signouts, information about a patient's post-operative leg pain and chest discomfort is not conveyed to the primary team. A PE is discovered post-mortem.
Abdominal pain misdiagnosed in an ED patient leads to ruptured appendix, multiple complications, and prolonged hospitalization.