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Fan B, Pardo J, Yu-Moe CW, et al. Ann Surg Oncol. 2021;28(13):8109-8115.
While prior research has described malpractice cases related to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, this study sought to identify errors specifically related to breast cancer surgical procedures. Plastic surgeons were the most commonly named provider type (64%), error in surgical treatment was the most common allegation (87%), and infection, cosmetic injury, emotional trauma, foreign body, and nosocomial infection were the top 5 injury descriptions.

Manchester, UK: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman; October 2021.

This report examines a premature infant death associated with failings of antibiotic administration, deterioration recognition and action on family concerns both during treatment and post-incident. The report issues a series of recommendations building on standard remediation guidance in the United Kingdom.
Trost SL, Beauregard JL, Smoots AN, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2021;40(10):1551-1559.
Missed diagnosis of mental health conditions can lead to serious adverse outcomes. Researchers evaluated data from 2008 to 2017 from 14 state Maternal Mortality Review Committees and found that 11% of pregnancy-related deaths were due to mental health conditions. A substantial proportion of people with a pregnancy-related mental health cause of death had a history of depression or past/current substance use. Researchers conclude that addressing gaps maternal mental health care is essential to improving maternal safety.
Schaffer AC, Babayan A, Einbinder JS, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2021;138(2):246-252.
Adverse events in obstetrics threaten the safety of both maternal and infant patients. This study identified a significant reduction in malpractice claims among obstetrician-gynecologists after participation in simulation training focused on team training and crisis management.
Arntson E, Dimick JB, Nuliyalu U, et al. Ann Surg. 2021;274(4):e301-e307.
Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) are thought to be preventable, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reduce payments to hospitals with the highest rates of these conditions through its Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program (HACRP). This study evaluated surgical HACs at three timepoints: before Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, after ACA implementation, and after HACRP. While the number of HACs continued to decline after implementation of HACRP, it did not affect 30-day mortality.

Ellis NT, Broaddus A. CNN. August 25, 2021. 

Maternal safety is an ongoing challenge worldwide. This news feature examines how the COVID pandemic has revealed disparities and implicit biases that impact the maternal care of black women. The stories shared highlight experiences of mothers with preventable pregnancy-related complications.

Ensuring maternal safety is a patient safety priority. This library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on improving maternal safety. Included resources explore strategies with the potential to improve maternal care delivery and outcomes, such as high reliability, care standardization, teamwork, unit-based safety initiatives, and trigger tools.

Chua K-P, Brummett CM, Conti RM, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;148(3):e2021051539.
Despite public policies and guidelines to reduce opioid prescribing, providers continue to overprescribe these medications to children, adolescents, and young adults. In this analysis of US retail pharmacy data, 3.5% of US children and young adults were dispensed at least one opioid prescription; nearly half of those included at least one factor indicating they were high risk. Consistent with prior research, dentists and surgeons were the most frequent prescribers, writing 61% of all opiate prescriptions.
Douglas RN, Stephens LS, Posner KL, et al. Br J Anaesth. 2021;127(3):470-478.
Effective communication among providers helps ensure patient safety. Through analysis of perioperative malpractice claims using the Anesthesia Closed Claims Project database, researchers found that communication failures contributed to 43% of total claims, with the majority between the anesthesiologist/anesthesia team and the surgeon/surgery team. Methods to improve perioperative communication are discussed.

Fourth Report of Session 2021–22. House of Commons Health Committee. London, England: The Stationery Office; July 6, 2021. Publication HC 19. 

High-profile failures motivate examination and change of existing services. This report builds on maternity care failures in National Health Service trusts to recommend needed changes in learning from failure to effectively support clinicians providing maternity care, provide patient-centered care to mothers and babies, and learn from untoward incidents to enhance care safety.
Marang-van de Mheen PJ, Vincent CA. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(7):525-528.
Research has shown that patients admitted to the hospital on the weekend may experience worse outcomes compared to those admitted on weekdays (the ‘weekend effect’). This editorial highlights the challenges to empirically evaluate the underlying mechanisms contributing to the weekend effect. The authors propose viewing the weekend effect as a proxy for staffing levels and the influence of other factors influencing outcomes for patients admitted on weekends, such as patient acuity, clinician skill-mix and access to diagnostic tests or other ancillary services.
Brown SD. Pediatr Radiol. 2021;51(6):1070-1075.
Misdiagnosis of child abuse has far-reaching implications. This commentary discusses the ethical tensions faced by pediatric radiologists of both over- and under-diagnosing child abuse. The author suggests ways that physicians and professional societies can partner with legal advocates to create a more balanced pool of experts to alleviate perceptions of bias and acknowledge harms of misdiagnosed child abuse.
Synan LT, Eid MA, Lamb CR, et al. Surgery. 2021;170(3):764-768.
This study compared unsolicited hospital reviews posted online by patients with Hospital Compare patient satisfaction and postsurgical safety indicators. While there was variation in consumer ratings between platforms, unstructured consumer reviews were generally correlated with Hospital Compare patient satisfaction scores; consumer platforms were not consistently correlated with postsurgical patient safety indicators.
Kurteva S, Abrahamowicz M, Gomes T, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(5):e218782.
Using administrative data and patient interviews, this study sought to estimate opioid-related adverse events in adults discharged from one Canadian hospital. Among patients who filled at least one opioid prescription in the 90 days following hospital discharge, approximately 16% experienced an opioid-related emergency department visit, hospital readmission, or death. Longer duration of use and higher daily dose were associated with increased risk of adverse events. Results from this study can inform policies and strategies to limit opioid prescription dose and duration.  

Weiser S. The New Yorker and Retro Report; 2021.

Disparities in maternal care have become apparent as a public health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. This short film spotlights inequities and biases that Black mothers face, that reduce the safety of their care. Midwives are offered as a strategy for improving the safety of maternal care in this patient population.
Cohen AJ, Lui H, Zheng M, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(5):e217058.
While rare, surgical never events can have tragic consequences for patients including permanent harm and death. This study analyzed 142 surgical never events reported to the California Department of Public Health. Retained foreign objects were the most commonly reported never event (66.2%), followed by wrong site or wrong patient (15.5%), and surgical burns (7.7%). Recommended strategies to reduce and prevent never events include proper use of intraoperative checklists.
KM B. New York Univ Law Rev. 2020;95(5):1229-1318.
Maternal death or harm is disproportionately experienced by women of color in the United States. This perspective discusses legislative efforts to address discrepancies affecting the safety of this patient population. The author reviews weaknesses of this approach which include a lack of emphasis on state-level analysis of the problem to address system-level contributors to the problem.

Ofri D. New York Times. January 5, 2021. 

Physicians have unique perspectives when exposed to health care delivery problems as patients themselves or as caregivers. This news story shares the author’s frustrations with the system of care observed during an overnight visit at the bedside of her daughter awaiting an emergency appendectomy. Her experience underscored the value of patients and families engaging in the safety of actions clinicians take when providing care. 

Dembosky A. All Things Considered. National Public Radio. October 15, 2020.

Physician implicit bias is gaining attention as a patient safety concern. This piece shares a story of ineffective care delivery to a patient with COVID-19 as context for the discussion. Hospital tactics to address the problem such as training and use of patient survey data to motivate individual action are reviewed.