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The medication-use process is highly complex with many steps and risk points for error, and those errors are a key target for improving safety. This Library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on medication and drug errors. Included resources explore understanding harms from preventable medication use, medication safety improvement strategies, and resources for design.

Carvalho IV, Sousa VM de, Visacri MB, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021;37(4):e152-e158.
This study sought to determine the rate of pediatric emergency department (ED) visits due to adverse drug events (ADE). Of 1,708 pediatric patients, 12.3% were admitted to the ED due to ADEs, with the highest rates of admission due to neurological, dermatological, and respiratory medications. The authors recommend the involvement of clinical pharmacists to prevent and identify ADEs in the pediatric population, particularly through education of children’s caregivers and health professionals.
Young E. The Atlantic. 2020.
Preconceptions of disease can impact the medical and social response to patients with chronic conditions. This article discusses patients with COVID-19 who survive the virus and describes ineffective support due to lack of understanding and empathy regarding the long-term debilitation survivors experience.    
Hado E, Friss Feinberg L. J Aging Soc Policy. 2020;32(4-5):410-415.
These authors discuss the role of family caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic and suggest avenues to support the relationship between families and residents of long-term care facilities, including strengthening communicating channels, activating family councils, and utilizing gerontological social work students.
Agarwal M, Lovegrove MC, Geller RJ, et al. J Pediatr. 2020;219.
Parents are advised to keep medications inaccessible to young children to avoid accidental ingestions. This study prospectively enrolled nearly 4,500 individuals calling poison control centers about unsupervised solid dose medication exposure in young children (ages 5 years and younger) to identify the types of containers from which young children accessed these medications. The majority of incidents (71.6%) involved children 2 years and younger. Incidents were equally divided among calls involving prescription-only medications, over-the-counter (OTC) projects requiring child-resistant packaging, and OTC projects not requiring such packaging. One-third of all incidents involved medication that had been removed from the original container; this was more likely in incidents involving prescription drugs compared to OTC drugs (adjusted odds ratio, 3.39; 95% CI, 2.87-4.00).  These findings suggest that unsupervised medication exposures in young children are just as often the result of adults removing medications from original packaging as the result of improper use or failure of child-resistant packaging.

FDA alerts patients and health care professionals of EpiPen auto-injector errors related to device malfunctions and user administration. MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration. March 24, 2020.

Device related errors reduce the safety of medications. This announcement highlights concerns associated with the use of epinephrine auto-injectors. Recommendations to address the problem include patient review of instructions and practice with the device to ensure its effective use in emergent situations.
Massachusetts Sepsis Consortium.
Delayed diagnosis of sepsis is a primary patient safety concern. This campaign raises awareness of the symptoms of sepsis to engage patients in timely diagnosis and safe treatment of the condition. 
Dinnen T, Williams H, Yardley S, et al. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2019.
Advance care planning (ACP) allows patients to express and document their preferences about medical treatment; however, there are concerns about uptake and documentation due to human error. This study used patient safety incident reports in the UK to characterize and explore safety issues arising from ACP and to identify areas for improvement. Over a ten-year period, there were 70 reports of an ACP-related patient safety incident (due to incomplete documentation, inaccessible documentation or miscommunication, or ACP directives not being followed) which led to inappropriate treatment, transfer or admission. The importance of targeting the human factors of the ACP process to improve safety is discussed. A PSNet Human Factors Primer on human factors expands on these concepts.  
Demiris G, Lin S-Y, Turner AM. Stud Health Technol Inform . 2019;264:1159-1163.
Patient safety in the home has not been well defined and there have been few studies of this setting. This study examines the concept of patient safety in the home and identifies personal health information management tools to support and maximize patient safety in the home. The study findings demonstrate the physical, emotional, social and functional dimensions of patient safety in the home and ways for informatics tools to maximize safety aspects.
King L, Peacock G, Crotty M, et al. Health Expect. 2019;22:385-395.
Patients and families have the potential to help medical teams proactively detect clinical deteriorations. This qualitative study with consumer advocates resulted in a comprehensive model for empowering patients to accurately activate rapid response systems.
Palmer J. Patient Saf Qual Healthc. May/June 2019.
Organizations must learn from adverse events to prevent similar incidents. Reporting on lessons to be learned from the cascade of failures connected with the preventable death of a patient during an acute asthma attack at the door of a hospital emergency department, this magazine article outlines the importance of effective signage, appropriate security staff placement, and acceptance of the responsibility for failure.
Austin M; Derk J; Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality; Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Measures help track gaps in process and evidence of safety improvements. This white paper examines the performance of hospitals receiving Hospital Safety Grades and the relationship between high-level recognition and preventable harm. The report estimates that a substantial number of lives could have been saved if performance metrics had been met, but concludes that even high-performing hospitals exhibit areas in need of improvement.
Gabler E.
Pediatric cardiac surgery is highly technical and risky. This newspaper article reports on a poorly performing pediatric cardiac surgery program, concerns raised by staff, and insufficient response from organizational leadership. Lack of data transparency, insufficient resources, and limited program capabilities to support a complex program contributed to poor outcomes for pediatric patients.
Sutton E, Brewster L, Tarrant C. Health Expect. 2019;22:650-656.
Interviews with frontline hospital staff and executive leaders revealed that they were generally supportive of engaging families and patients to promote infection prevention in the clinical setting when using a collaborative approach. Staff identified certain challenges including concerns related to the extent of responsibility patients and families should bear with regard to infection prevention as well as risks to infection control posed by patients themselves.
Pettersen B, Tate J, Tipper K, McKean H. Colorado Senate Bill 19-201.
Communication-and-resolution mechanisms are seen as important approaches to improving transparency and healing after an adverse event. This state bill, referred to as the "Colorado Candor Act," protects conversations between organizations, clinicians, patient, and families from legal discoverability and outlines criteria to guarantee that protection.
CDC Vital Signs. May 7, 2019.
Maternal morbidity and mortality is a worldwide patient safety problem. This analysis describes the prevalence of pregnancy-related death and areas of concern during pregnancy, at delivery, and up to a year postpartum. It reports that 60% of these deaths are preventable and provides suggestions for families, clinicians, and systems to reduce risks.
Cullen A. Uitgeverij van Brug: The Hague, The Netherlands; 2019. ISBN: 9789065232236.
Patient stories offer important insights regarding the impact medical errors have on patients and their families. This book shares the author's experience with medical error and spotlights how lack of transparency in European health care can contribute to avoidable process failures that result in patient harm.