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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.

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.
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.  
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.
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.
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.
Canadian Patient Safety Institute; CPSI; Health Standards Organization; HSO.
This draft 5-year framework aims to guide the activities in Canada to focus action, resources, and policy development on supporting care improvement. The document is structured around five goals: people-centered care, safe care, accessible care, appropriate care, and continuous care. The authors invited Canadian patients, families, clinicians, organization leaders, and policymakers to provide input on the material to ensure its applicability across the country. 
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.
Fitzsimons BT, Fitzsimons LL, Sun LR. Pediatrics. 2019;143(4):e20183458.
Rare diseases pose diagnostic challenges for physicians. This commentary offers insights from parents of a young child who died due to a delayed stroke diagnosis as well as from the patient's neurologist to raise awareness of childhood stroke and discuss the importance of partnership to heal from loss and advocate for improvement.
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.
Lifflander AL. JAMA. 2019;321:837-838.
Implementing new information systems can have unintended consequences on processes. This commentary explores insights from a physician, both as a clinician and as the family member of a patient, regarding the impact of hard stops in electronic health records intended to prevent gaps in data entry prior to task progression. The author raises awareness of the potential for patient harm due to interruptions and diminishing student and clinician skill in asking questions to build effective patient histories.
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.
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.
Jalal H, Buchanich JM, Roberts MS, et al. Science (1979). 2018;361.
Opioid overdose deaths remain a threat to patient safety. Information about how overdose deaths are nationally distributed is critical to inform prevention efforts. This robust analysis examined all drug overdose deaths in the United States over a 38-year period. Drug overdoses began increasing exponentially long before the opioid prescribing boom in the mid-1990s and continue to rise in this way. Demographically distinct subepidemics of prescription opioid, synthetic opioid, and stimulant use all contribute to drug overdose deaths as a whole. The authors speculate about what factors other than opioid prescribing might drive escalating substance use-related deaths. An Annual Perspective and a PSNet perspective provide further insights into how safety efforts can reduce opioid-related harm.
Collins SA, Couture B, Smith ADB, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16(2):e75-e81.
Detecting adverse events in the health care setting remains an ongoing challenge. Engaging patients and their family members may help to escalate safety issues not identified by other means. In this mixed-methods study, investigators analyzed the types of issues patients and their care partners reported in real time through a web-based electronic application implemented on three hospital units. After implementation of the tool, event reporting by patients to the Patient Family Relations Department declined, suggesting that patients preferred to report concerns anonymously through the application. The authors conclude that additional research is needed to understand how these types of applications could be integrated into patient safety programs. A past PSNet perspective highlighted how patient-facing technologies can empower patients.