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Powell ES, Bond WF, Barker LT, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:302-309.
Telehealth is increasingly used to connect rural hospitals with specialists in other areas and can improve patient outcomes. This study found that in situ simulation training in rural emergency departments resulted in small increases in the use of telemedicine for patients presenting with sepsis and led to improvements in sepsis process care outcomes.
Johansson H, Lundgren K, Hagiwara MA. BMC Emerg Med. 2022;22:79.
Emergency medical services (EMS) clinicians must decide whether to transport patients to hospitals for emergency care, what level of emergency care they require, or to treat the patient at home and not transport to hospital. This analysis focused on patient safety incidents in Swedish prehospital care that occurred after 2015, following implementation of a protocol allowing EMS clinicians to triage patients to see-and-treat (non-conveyance) or see-and-convey elsewhere. Qualitative analysis of incident reports revealed three themes: assessment of patients, guidelines, and environment and organization. EMS clinicians deviated from the protocol in 34% of cases, putting patients at risk of inappropriate triage to see-and-treat.
Baartmans MC, Hooftman J, Zwaan L, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;Epub Apr 21.
Understanding human causes of diagnostic errors can lead to more specific targeted, specific recommendations and interventions. Using three classification instruments, researchers examined a series of serious adverse events related to diagnostic errors in the emergency department. Most of the human errors were based on intended actions and could be classified as mistakes or violations. Errors were more frequently made during the assessment and testing phases of the diagnostic process.
Hansen M, Harrod T, Bahr N, et al. Acad Med. 2022;97:696-703.
Strong physician leadership during clinical crisis can help improve patient outcomes. In this randomized controlled trial, obstetrics-gynecology and emergency medicine residents participated in one of three study arms using high-fidelity mannequins. One study arm received a bespoke leadership curriculum, one received a modified version TeamSTEPPS curriculum, and the third received no leadership training. Participants in both curriculum arms improved leadership scores from “average” before the training to “good” following the training and continuing to six months. The control arm remained unchanged at “average” before and after.
Tate K, McLane P, Reid C, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2022;11:e001639.
Older adults are vulnerable to patient safety events during care transitions. The Older Persons’ Transitions in Care (OPTIC) study prospectively tracked long-term care residents’ transitions and applied the IOM’s quality of care domains to develop 49 measures for quality of care for the transition process (e.g., safety, timeliness, efficiency, effectiveness, and patient-centered care) between long-term care and emergency department settings.

Remle Crowe, PhD, NREMT, is the Director of Clinical and Operational Research at ESO. In her professional role, she provides strategic direction for the research mission of the organization, including oversight of a warehouse research data set of de-identified records (the ESO Data Collaborative). We spoke with her about how data is being used in the prehospital setting to improve patient safety.

Brady KJS, Barlam TF, Trockel MT, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:287-297.
Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics to treat viral illnesses is an ongoing patient safety threat. This study examined the association between clinician depression, anxiety, and burnout and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in outpatient care. Depression and anxiety, but not burnout, were associated with increased adjusted odds of inappropriate prescribing for RTIs.
Morsø L, Birkeland S, Walløe S, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:271-279.
Patient complaints can provide insights into safety threats and system weaknesses. This study used the healthcare complaints analysis tool (HCAT) to identify and categorize safety problems in emergency care. Most problems arose during examination/diagnosis and frequently resulted in diagnostic errors or errors of omission.
Salwei ME, Hoonakker PLT, Carayon P, et al. Hum Factors. 2022;Epub Apr 4.
Clinical decision support (CDS) systems are designed to improve diagnosis. Researchers surveyed emergency department physicians about their evaluation of human factors-based CDS systems to improve diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. Although perceived usability was high, use of the CDS tool in the real clinical environment was low; the authors identified several barriers to use, including lack of workflow integration.
Lin MP, Vargas-Torres C, Shin-Kim J, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2022;53:135-139.
Drug shortages can result in patient harm, such as dosing errors from a medication substitution. In this study, 28 of the 30 most frequently used medications in the emergency department experienced shortages between 2006 and 2019. The most common reasons for shortages were manufacturing delays and increased demand. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pre-existing drug shortages.
Navathe AS, Liao JM, Yan XS, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2022;41:424-433.
Opioid overdose and misuse continues to be a major public health concern with numerous policy- and organization-level approaches to encourage appropriate clinician prescribing. A northern California health system studied the effects of three interventions (individual audit feedback, peer comparison, both combined) as compared to usual care at several emergency department and urgent care sites. Peer comparison and the combined interventions resulted in a significant decrease in pills per prescription.
Staal J, Speelman M, Brand R, et al. BMC Med Educ. 2022;22:256.
Diagnostic safety is an essential component of medical training. In this study, medical interns reviewed six clinical cases in which the referral letters from the general practitioner suggested a correct diagnosis, an incorrect diagnosis, or lacked a diagnostic suggestion. Researchers found that diagnostic suggestions in the referral letter did not influence subsequent diagnostic accuracy but did reduce the number of diagnoses considered.  

An increasing volume of patients presenting for acute care can create a need for more ICU beds and intensivists and lead to longer wait times and boarding of critically ill patients in the emergency department (ED).1 Data suggest that boarding of critically ill patients for more than 6 hours in the emergency department leads to poorer outcomes and increased mortality.2,3 To address this issue, University of Michigan Health, part of Michigan Medicine, developed an ED-based ICU, the first of its kind, in its 1,000-bed adult hospital.

Dieckmann P, Tulloch S, Dalgaard AE, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2022;22:307.
When staff feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to speak up about safety concerns. This study sought to explore the link between psychological safety and improvement work, and whether an existing model captures all the relevant ‘antecedents’ and ‘consequences’ of psychological safety.
Hamad DM, Mandell SP, Stewart RM, et al. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2022;92:473-480.
By analyzing errors that lead to preventable or potentially preventable deaths in trauma care, healthcare organizations can develop mitigation strategies to prevent those errors from reoccurring. This study classified events anonymously reported by trauma centers using the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations Patient Safety Event Taxonomy. Mitigation strategies were most often low-level, person-focused (e.g., education and training).
Andersen TS, Gemmer MN, Sejberg HRC, et al. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2022;15:142.
Conducting a complete medication reconciliation in the emergency department may be difficult or even impossible if the patient is unable to speak for themselves. In these instances, clinicians must rely solely on electronic records of medication prescriptions, which do not always reflect the medications being taken. This analysis of prescriptions entered into the Danish Shared Medication Record (SMR) and patient reports of medications taken showed 81% of patients had at least one discrepancy, the most common of which was discontinued medications still showing in the SMR.

Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; February 17, 2022.

Pre-hospital emergency care can be vulnerable to timing, information, and task failures that compromise safety. This investigation explores how computerized decision support system access played a roles in an emergency call-center program incident where erroneous information was transmitted to a pregnant patient that contributed to infant harm.
Adler JL, Gurley K, Rosen CL, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2022;54:228-231.
Analyzing reported errors and adverse events can help identify areas of concern needing improvement. Errors and/or adverse events occurring in one emergency department (ED) were classified into one of three groups (attributed to residents only, attendings only, or both), and into five further categories of event types (systems, documentation, diagnostic, procedural, and treatment).  Most errors were attributed to both residents and attendings, and treatment errors were the most common error type.