Gallagher R, Passmore MJ, Baldwin C. Med Hypotheses. 2020;142:109727.
The authors of this article suggest that offering palliative care services earlier should be considered a patient safety issue. They highlight three cases in which patients in Canada requested medical assistance in dying (MAiD). The patients in two of the cases were never offered palliative care services, and this could be considered a medical error – had they been offered palliative care services, they may have changed their mind about MAiD, as did the patient in the third case study.
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.
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.
Referred to urology for a 5-year history of progressive urinary frequency, nocturnal urination, and difficulty initiating a stream, a man had been reluctant to seek care for his symptoms because his father had a "miserable" experience with treatment for the same condition. A physician assistant saw him at that first visit and ordered a PSA test (despite the patient's expressed views against PSA testing) and cystoscopy (without explaining why it was needed), and urged the patient to self-catheterize (without any instructions on how to do so).
Herlihy M, Harcourt K, Fossa A, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2019;134:128-137.
Prior research has shown that when patients have access to clinicians' notes, they may identify relevant safety concerns. In this study, 9550 obstetrics and gynecology patients were provided with access to their outpatient visit documentation. Almost 70% of eligible patients read one or more notes during the study period, but only 3.2% shared feedback through 232 electronic reports. Of patients who provided feedback, 27% identified errors in the documentation; provider reviewers determined that 75% of these could impact care.
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.
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.
Hochman M, Bourgoin A, Saluja S, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2019. AHRQ Publication No. 18(19)-0055-EF.
Programs are in place to address hospital discharge process gaps that contribute to readmissions. This report summarizes research on primary care perspectives on reducing readmissions. Interventions identified include automated alerting to primary care providers when patients are hospitalized and the patient-centered medical home model.
Mays JA, Mathias PC. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2019;26:269-272.
Point-of-care test results are often manually transcribed into the electronic health record, which introduces risks of manual transcription errors. The authors of this study took advantage of a redundant workflow in which point-of-care blood glucose results were uploaded and also manually entered by staff. They estimate that 5 in 1000 manually entered results contain clinically significant transcription errors and call for interfacing point-to-care instruments as a patient safety strategy.
Medication errors continue to be a worldwide patient safety challenge that requires both systems and individual practice strategies for improvement. This magazine article describes how pharmacists can address failures associated with processing, dosing, care transitions, and information sharing to prevent medication errors.
Meyer AND, Murphy DR, Al-Mutairi A, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2017;32.
Trigger tools facilitate identification of adverse events. In this retrospective medical record review study, investigators found that an automated trigger successfully identified delayed follow-up of laboratory thyroid testing among patients with hypothyroidism, with a positive predictive value of 60%. The authors suggest that this trigger approach could be used to detect and ameliorate follow-up delays in real time.
Implementation of the electronic health record has led to providers engaging in workarounds to circumvent system limitations. This survey found that nearly half of providers at Veterans Affairs medical centers use workarounds when managing test results in the electronic health record. The authors suggest that results management should be improved in future electronic health records and work systems to enhance efficiency and care coordination.
Gardner LA. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. 2016;13:58-65.
Insufficient health literacy is a known patient safety hazard. This article reviews incidents submitted to a state reporting initiative where insufficient patient understanding may have played a role in delayed or missed care and describes a program to encourage adoption of teach-back and other strategies to help patients better comprehend their health care instructions. A past PSNet perspective discussed the role of health literacy in patient safety.
The communication of test results is a key activity for primary care practices. However, this qualitative study discovered that current systems for communicating test results vary widely across practices and pose many crucial pitfalls, such as the lack of a method for detecting delayed or missing results.
This article describes an intervention that trained health coaches to use mobile technology to assess the health status of recently discharged Medicare patients, first during an in-home visit 48 hours after leaving the hospital and then with weekly phone calls over a 3-week period. The program resulted in decreased readmission rates and significant cost savings.
Prouty CD, Mazor KM, Greene SM, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29:1122-30.
Quality cancer care is often threatened by poor communication and lack of coordination. Prior research has described cancer patients' perspectives related to communication breakdowns, but this study used focus groups with primary care physicians, oncologists, and nurses to explore the clinician viewpoint. Many insightful quotes are included throughout the article illustrating complex interchanges between patients, providers, and health systems in the high-stakes arena of longitudinal cancer care. One highlighted problem related to some patients' reticence to discuss adverse effects of therapy due to fear that they will no longer be offered further treatments. Clinicians often found it challenging to balance hope with reality and to provide accurate information to patients and their families. They also expressed frustration with systems factors, such as appointments that are too short for having serious in-depth conversations. The authors suggest a number of potential solutions for facilitating open communication between patients and providers.
Bowie P, Halley L, McKay J. BMJ Open. 2014;4:e004245.
In this qualitative study, outpatient practice administrators identified weaknesses in management of patient test results: system flaws, poor communication within health care teams, challenges to informing patients of results, and difficulties associated with ensuring follow-up and confidentiality. This study underscores persisting concerns related to test results management, despite longstanding work in this area.
Electronic health records have had mixed effects on patient safety. This qualitative study of physicians and nurses revealed safety concerns about alert fatigue and propagation of incorrect information as well as perceived safety improvements through enhanced communication and legibility.
Roy CL, Rothschild JM, Dighe AS, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2013;39:517-527.
Appropriate follow-up of abnormal test results remains a difficult issue. This local task force report recommends standardization of notification policies, clear identification of the care team, enhanced electronic result tracking, and quality reporting and metrics.
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