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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.

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.    
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.
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.
Jewett C. Kaiser Health News. May 3, 2019.
Transparency has been heralded as a cornerstone to improvement in health care. This news article reports on a government alternative summary reporting program that allowed medical device makers to conceal safety events and malfunction reports associated with medical devices. A new program that expands access to information about device-related failures will be put in place.
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.
Gordon M. Health Shots. National Public Radio. April 10, 2019.
Punitive responses to medical errors persist despite continued efforts to reduce them. This news article reports on an incident involving the mistaken use of a neuromuscular blocking agent that resulted in the death of a patient, the prosecution of the nurse who made the error, and systemic and human factors that contribute to similar events.
Schulte F; Fry E.
Despite years of investment and government support, electronic health records (EHR) continue to face challenges as a patient safety strategy. This news article outlines the unintended consequences of EHR implementation, including patient harm linked to software glitches and user errors, fraudulent behavior (upcoding), interoperability problems, clinician burnout due to poorly designed digital health records, and lack of industry transparency.
Dickson EJ. Rolling Stone. March 9, 2019.
Unintended consequences of restrictions enacted to combat the opioid crisis are a concern for patients and prescribers. This magazine article reports on an effort to raise awareness of the potential for patient harm due to lack of legitimate access to opioids for chronic pain as a result of the 2016 CDC opioid prescribing guidelines.
Span P.
Cognitive and functional decline can occur as individuals age. Concerns have been raised regarding the need to assess skills of aging physicians. This newspaper article reports on the implementation of mandatory evaluation programs to assess competencies of older surgeons and the profession's response to them.
Park A.
This news article reports on the documentary To Err Is Human, which was produced and directed by the son of patient safety leader Dr. John M. Eisenberg. The film is structured around patient safety advocate Sue Sheridan's experience with diagnostic errors that resulted in harm for both her son and husband. It features a wide range of experts who discuss the impact of error on all involved, the role of culture in facilitating both mistakes and progress, and why continued work in health care safety is needed.
Dembosky A. All Things Considered and KQED. January 23, 2019.
Policy, practice, and communication strategies have been implemented in an effort to stem the opioid crisis and prescribing activities that contribute to misuse. This news article and accompanying webcast discuss an initiative in California that sends letters to prescribers whose patients have died due to opioid overdose. The piece outlines unintended consequences associated with the practice, including clinician reluctance to prescribe opioids for pain. An Annual Perspective discussed the patient safety aspects of the opioid epidemic.
Hixenbaugh M, Ornstein C. Houston Chronicle and Propublica. May 2018-May 2019.
This news investigation chronicles a series of incidents in a transplant program that resulted in patient harm. The systemic nature of the problems such as insufficient whistleblower protection, accountability, and follow-up on patient concerns culminated in a change of hospital leadership. A previous PSNet interview with Charles Ornstein discussed the role of media in raising awareness of patient safety issues.
McGrory K; Bedi N.
Pediatric cardiac surgery is a high-risk practice. This news investigation reports on a series of serious patient safety incidents at a health care institute dedicated to treating heart problems in children and the cultural and individual provider issues that perpetuate unsafe care.
Graham J.
Patients can identify errors in their medical records that health care providers may not recognize. This news article highlights the importance of patients correcting seemingly simple mistakes such as name misspellings and phone numbers as these errors can contribute to situations that result in patient harm.
Simmons-Ritchie D. Penn Live. November 15, 2018.
Nursing home patients are vulnerable to preventable harm due to poor safety culture, insufficient staffing levels, lack of regulation enforcement, and misaligned financial incentives. This news investigation reports on how poor practices resulted in resident harm in Pennsylvania nursing homes and discusses strategies for improvement, such as enhancing investigation processes.
DeMarco P. Globe Magazine. November 3, 2018.
This magazine article reports on the preventable death of a patient during an acute asthma attack. Written by the patient's husband, the article outlines the failures that led to her death despite the fact that she was at the door of a hospital emergency department and on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. Factors discussed include overreliance on poorly functioning technology, communication failures, and lack of fail-safes.