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Webster KLW, Keebler JR, Lazzara EH, et al. Jt Comm Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:343-353.
Effective handoff communication is a key indicator of safe patient care. These authors outline a new model for handoff communication, integrating three theoretical frameworks addressing relevant inputs (i.e., individual organizational, environmental factors), mediators (e.g., communication, leadership), outcomes (e.g., patient, provider, teamwork, and organizational outcomes), and adaptation loops.

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.
Frisch NK, Gibson PC, Stowman AM, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2022;Epub Feb 21.
Electronic health records (EHR) can improve patient care and safety but are not without potential risks. A cyberattack led to a 25-day shutdown of a hospital’s EHR that necessitated a rapid shift to manual processes. This article outlines the laboratory service’s processes during the shutdown, including patient safety and error reduction, billing, and maintaining compliance with regulatory policies.
Domingo J, Galal G, Huang J. NEJM Catalyst. 2022;3.
Failure to follow up on abnormal diagnostic test results can cause delays in patients receiving appropriate care. This hospital used an artificial intelligence natural language processing system to identify radiology reports requiring follow-up. The system triggered automated notifications to the patient and ordering provider, and tracked follow-ups to completion. System development, deployment and next steps are detailed.
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.
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. 

The Patient Safe-D(ischarge) program used standardized tools to educate patients about their discharge needs, test understanding of those needs, and improve medication reconciliation at admission and discharge. A quasi-randomized controlled trial of the program found that it significantly increased patients' understanding and knowledge of their diagnoses, treatment, and required follow-up care.

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.
Massa S, Wu J, Wang C, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:242-249.
The objective of this mixed methods study was to characterize training, practices, and preferences in interprofessional handoffs from the operating room to the intensive care unit (OR-to-ICU). Anesthesia residents, registered nurses, and advanced practice providers indicated that they had not received enough preparation for OR-to-ICU handoffs in their clinical education or on-the-job training. Clinicians from all professions noted a high value of interprofessional education in OR-to-ICU handoffs, especially during early degree programs would be beneficial.
Rich RK, Jimenez FE, Puumala SE, et al. HERD. 2020;14:65-82.
Design changes in health care settings can improve patient safety. In this single-site study, researchers found that new hospital design elements (single patient acuity-adaptable rooms, decentralized nursing stations, access to nature, etc.) improved patient satisfaction but did not impact patient outcomes such as length, falls, medication events, or healthcare-associated infections.  

Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. January 5, 2021. Report No. 20-01521-48.

 

This investigation examined care coordination, screening and other factors that contributed to a patient death by suicide shortly after discharge from a Veteran’s Hospital. Event reporting, disclosure and evaluation gaps were identified as process weaknesses to be addressed. 

Kirkup B. London, England: Crown Copyright; 2020. ISBN 9781528622714.

Missed diagnosis of a dangerous condition in utero, treatment errors, lack of response to concerns raised, and inadequate clinician expertise were among the contributing factors identified in this analysis of the death of a special needs infant at home. The 12 recommendations stemming from the investigation include improvements in disclosure support, clinician communication across facilities, and assignment of accountability when false and misleading statements are made during investigations.
Ihlebæk HM. Int J Nurs Stud. 2020;109:103636.
Using ethnographic methods, this study explored the impact of ‘silent report’ (computer-mediated handover) on nurses’ cognitive work and communication. The authors summarize four emerging themes, which highlight and characterize the importance of oral communication to ensure accurate and useful handovers.
Salvador RO, Gnanlet A, McDermott C. Personnel Rev. 2020;50:971-984.
Prior research suggests that functional flexibility has benefits in several industries but may carry patient safety risks in healthcare settings. Using data from a national nursing database, this study examined the effect of unit-level nursing functional flexibility on the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Results indicate that higher use of functionally flexible nurses was associated with a higher number of pressure ulcers, but this effect was moderated when coworker support within the unit was high.
Koo JK, Moyer L, Castello MA, et al. Pediatr Qual Saf. 2020;5:e329.
Children are highly vulnerable to safety risks associated with written handoffs. This article describes the impact of unit-wide implementation of a new handoff tool using electronic health record (EHR) auto-populated fields for pertinent neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patient data. Handoff time remained the same, and the tool increased the accuracy of patient data included in handoffs and reduced the frequency of incorrect medications listing. 

Levett-Jones T, ed. Clin Sim Nurs. 2020;44(1):1-78; 2020;45(1):1-60.

Simulation is a recognized technique to educate and plan to improve care processes and safety. This pair of special issues highlights the use of simulation in nursing and its value in work such as communication enhancement, minority population care, and patient deterioration.   
Office of Health Care Quality. Baltimore, MD: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
This annual report summarizes never events in Maryland hospitals over the previous year. From July 2019-June 2020, reported pressure ulcers increased while treatment delays and surgery-related events decreased. The authors recommend several corrective actions to build on training and policy changes to guide improvement work, including improving team communication and use of hospital data to reduce delays.
Diaz MCG, Dawson K. Am J Med Qual. 2020;35:474-478.
Communication and shared mental models are key elements to effective teamwork. This study explored whether simulation-based closed-loop communication training would improve staff perceptions of communication ability and decrease medical errors. Increases in perception of closed-loop communication ability were sustained one-month after training. A retrospective chart review of all emergency severity index (ESI) level 1 patients (n=9) seen in the 4-months pre- and post-training showed a reduction in medical errors (89% to 56%, respectively).
Blease CR, Fernandez L, Bell SK, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2020;29:864–868.
Providing patients – particularly elderly, less educated, non-white, and non-English speaking patients – with access to their medical records via ‘open notes’ can improve engagement in care; however, these demographic groups are also less likely to take advantage of these e-tools. The authors summarize the preliminary evidence and propose steps to increasing use of open note portals among disadvantaged patients.