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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.

McGaughey J, Fergusson DA, Van Bogaert P, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021;2021(11).
Rapid response systems (RRS) and early warning systems (EWS) are designed to detect patient deterioration and prevent cardiac arrest, transfer to the intensive care unit, or death. This review updates the authors’ review published in 2007. Eleven studies representing patients in 282 hospitals were reviewed to determine the effect of RRS or EWS on patient outcomes.

Bekes JL, Sackash CR, Voss AL, et al. AANA J. 2021;89(4):319-324.

Pediatric medication errors during anesthesia can lead to significant harm and are largely preventable. This review identifies several themes around medication errors including dosing and incorrect medication. Successful error reduction strategies, such as standardized labeling and pre-filled syringes, are also described.
Leibner ES, Baron EL, Shah RS, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;Epub Sep 28.
During the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid redeployment of noncritical care healthcare staff was necessary to meet the unprecedented number of patients needing critical care. A New York health system developed a multidisciplinary simulation training program to prepare the redeployed staff for new roles in the intensive care unit (ICU). The training included courses on management of a patient with acute decompensation with COVID-19, critical care basics for the non-ICU provider, and manual proning of a mechanically ventilated patient.
Renaudin P, Coste A, Audurier Y, et al. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2021;Epub Sep 24.
Pharmacists play an essential role in medication safety through practices such as medication reconciliation and best possible medication history. This observational study found that 20% of patients presenting to surgical units at one French hospital over a two-month period had a medication error. Pharmacists intervened and resolved medication errors related to untreated indications, subtherapeutic dosages, and prescriptions without an indication.

A 78-year-old woman with macular degeneration presented for a pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) under monitored anesthesia care (MAC) with an eye block. At this particular hospital, eye cases under MAC are typically performed with an eye block by the surgeon after the anesthesiologist has administered some short-acting sedation, commonly with remifentanil. On this day, there was a shortage of premixed remifentanil and the resident – who was unfamiliar with the process of drug dilution – incorrectly diluted the remifentanil solution.

Gregory H, Cantley M, Calhoun C, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2021;46:266-270.
Medication safety continues to be a challenge in most healthcare settings, including emergency departments. In this academic emergency department, an overall error rate of 16.5% was observed, including errors in directions, quantity prescribed, and prescriptions written with refills. Involving a pharmacist at discharge may increase patient safety.

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.

Fischer CP, Bilimoria KY, Ghaferi AA. JAMA. 2021;326(2):179-180.
Rapid response teams (RRTs) are intended to quickly identify clinical deterioration and prevent intensive care unit transfer, cardiac arrest, or death. This article summarizes the evidence included in the AHRQ Making Healthcare Safer III report about the use of RRTs to decrease failure to rescue. Although utilization is widespread, the authors conclude that definitive evidence that RRTs are associated with reduced rates of failure to rescue is inconclusive. The authors note that evidence does support that RRTs are associated with reduced secondary outcomes, such as ICU transfer rate and cardiac arrest.
Evans S, Green A, Roberson A, et al. J Pediatr Nurs. 2021;61:151-156.
A lack of situational awareness can lead to delayed recognition of patient deterioration. This children’s hospital developed and implemented a situational awareness framework designed to decrease emergency transfers to the intensive care unit (ICU). The framework included both objective and subjective criteria. By identifying patients at increased risk of clinical deterioration (“watcher status”) and use of the framework, recognition of deterioration occurred sooner and resulted in fewer emergency transfers to the ICU.
Nikouline A, Quirion A, Jung JJ, et al. CJEM. 2021;23:537–546.
Trauma resuscitation is a complex, specialized care process with a high risk for errors. This systematic review identified 39 unique errors occurring in trauma resuscitation involving emergency medical services (EMS) handover; airway management; inadequate assessment and/or management of injuries; inadequate monitoring, transfusion/blood-related errors; team communication errors; procedure-related errors; or errors in disposition.
Li Q, Hu P, Kang H, et al. J Nutr Health Aging. 2020;25(4):492-500.
Missed and delayed diagnosis are a known cause of preventable adverse events. In this cohort of 107 patients with severe or critical COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, 45% developed acute kidney injury (AKI). However, nearly half of those patients (46%) were not diagnosed during their stay in the hospital. Patients with undiagnosed AKI experienced greater hospital mortality than those without AKI or diagnosed AKI. Involvement of intensive care kidney specialists is recommended to increase diagnostic awareness.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May 3, 2021. Fed Register. 2021;86(83):23366-23369.

This notice announces a call for comments on an information collection project drawing from the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP). This project will support the implementation of targeted hospital-acquired infection improvement initiatives in intensive care units, long term care and surgical environments to reduce the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The process for submitting comments is now closed.
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.
Sprogis SK, Street M, Currey J, et al. Aust Crit Care. 2021;34(6):580-586.
Medical emergency teams (MET), also known as rapid response teams, are used to improve the identification and management of patients demonstrating signs of rapid deterioration. This study found that modifying activation criteria to trigger METs at more extreme levels of clinical deterioration were not associated with negative patient safety outcomes.
Dryver E, Lundager Forberg J, Hård af Segerstad C, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(9):697-705.
Checklists are commonly used in surgical and critical care settings to improve patient safety. This multisite study simulation study found that checklists can improve local resuscitation teams’ management of medical crises such as anaphylactic shock and septic shock in emergency departments.
Haydar B, Baetzel A, Stewart M, et al. Anesth Analg. 2020;131(1):245-254.
Children undergoing intrahospital transport are at risk for adverse events. This study used perioperative adverse event data reported to a patient safety organization to identify pediatric anesthesia transport-associated adverse events. A small proportion (5%) of pediatric anesthesia adverse events were associated with transport, but the majority of events were deemed preventable and one-third resulted in patient harm. Cardiac arrest and respiratory events occurred most frequently and largely affected very young children (<6 month). A previous WebM&M discussed a perioperative respiratory event in a pediatric patient during intrahospital transport.
Parro Martín M de los Á, Muñoz García M, Delgado Silveira E, et al. J Eval Clin Pract. 2021;27(1):160-166.
Researchers analyzed medication errors occurring in the trauma service of a single university hospital in Spain to inform the development and implementation of a set of measures to improve the safety of the pharmacotherapeutic process. The Multidisciplinary Hospital Safety Group proposed improvement measures that intend to involve pharmacists in medication reconciliation, increase the use of medication reconciliation in the emergency and trauma departments, and incorporate protocols and alerts into the electronic prescribing system.

A 40-year-old man with multiple comorbidities, including severe aortic stenosis, was admitted for a pathologic pelvic fracture (secondary to osteoporosis) after a fall. During the hospitalization, efforts at mobilization led to a second fracture of the left femoral neck The case describes deviations in the plan for management of anesthesia and postoperative care which ultimately contributed to the patient’s death.