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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.

Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, Cooke M, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2021;21(1):139.
Overcrowding in the emergency department (ED) can result in increased frequency of medication errors, in-hospital cardiac arrest, and other patient safety concerns. This study examined diagnostic errors after introducing a new healthcare service model in which emergency departments are co-located with general practitioner (GP) services. Potential priority areas for improvement include appropriate triage, diagnostic test interpretation, and communication between GP and ED services.
Linzer M, Neprash HT, Brown RL, et al. Ann Fam Med. 2021;19(6):521-526.
Using data from the Healthy Work Place trial, this study explored characteristics associated with high clinician and patient trust. Findings suggest that trust is higher when clinicians perceived their organizational cultures as emphasizing quality, communication and information, cohesiveness, and value alignment between clinicians and leaders.
Winning AM, Merandi J, Rausch JR, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):531-540.
Healthcare professionals involved in a medical error often experience psychological distress. This article describes the validation of a revised version of the Second Victim Experience and Support Tool (SVEST-R), which was expanded to include measures of resilience and desired forms of support.

Famolaro T, Hare R, Tapia A, Yount et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2021. AHRQ Publication No. 22-0004.

Ambulatory surgery centers harbor unique characteristics that affect safety culture. This analysis from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shares results of 235 ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) participating in the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS) Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey. Most respondents (92%) rated their organization as committed to learning and continuous improvement.

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Care Quality Commission; September 2021.

The safety of maternity care is threatened by inequity. This report analyzes a set of United Kingdom investigation reports to identify issues affecting maternity care to determine their prevalence elsewhere in the system. Problems identified include poor leadership and teamwork, as well as learning and cross-service collaboration.

An 18-year-old man with a history of untreated depression and suicide attempts (but no history of psychiatric hospitalizations) was seen in the ED for suicidal ideation after recent gun purchase. Due to suicidal ideation, he was placed on safety hold and a psychiatric consultation was requested. The psychiatry team recommended discharge with outpatient therapy; he was discharged with outpatient resources, the crisis hotline phone number, and strict return precautions.

A 52-year-old woman presented for a lumpectomy with lymphoscintigraphy and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) after being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DICS). On the day of surgery, the patient was met in the pre-operative unit by several different providers (pre-operative nurse, resident physician, attending physician, and anethesiology team) to help prepare her for the procedure. In the OR, the surgical team performed two separate time-outs while the patient was being prepped, placed under general anesthesia, and draped.

Wallis CJD, Jerath A, Coburn N, et al. JAMA Surg. 2021;Epub Dec 9.
Gender, racial, and ethnic disparities in healthcare can adversely impact patient safety and lead to poor outcomes. This retrospective study examined surgeon-patient sex discordance and perioperative outcomes among adult patients in Ontario, Canada, undergoing common elective or emergent surgical procedures from 2007 to 2019. Among 1.3 million patients, sex discordance between surgeon and patient was associated with a significant increased likelihood of adverse perioperative outcomes, including death. Subgroup analyses indicate that this relationship is driven by worse outcomes among female patients treated by male surgeons.
Brown B, Bermingham S, Vermeulen M, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(4):e001593.
Despite evidence of the benefits of the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist, implementation and sustainability are inconsistent in many hospitals. Using five cycles of Plan-Do-Study-Act, a hospital in Adelaide, South Australia was able to increase use of the checklist from 3.5% to 63%. Staff reported that they felt the new checklist process improved patient safety and was easily incorporated into their workflow.
Gibson BA, McKinnon E, Bentley RC, et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2021;Epub Oct 21.
A shared understanding of terminology is critical to providing appropriate treatment and care. This study assessed pathologist and clinician agreement of commonly-used phrases used to describe diagnostic uncertainty in surgical pathology reports. Phrases with the strongest agreement in meaning were “diagnostic of” and “consistent with”. “Suspicious for” and “compatible with” had the weakest agreement. Standardized diagnostic terms may improve communication.
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.
Brenner MJ, Boothman RC, Rushton CH, et al. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2021;55(1).
This three-part series offers an in-depth look into the core values of honesty, transparency, and trust. Part 1, Promoting Professionalism, introduces interventions to increase provider professionalism. Part 2, Communication and Transparency, describes the commitment to honesty and transparency across the continuum of the patient-provider relationship. Part 3, Health Professional Wellness, describes the impact of harm on providers and offers recommendations for restoring wellness and joy in work.
Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, Edwards M, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2021;71(713):e931-e940.
In an effort to address increased patient demand and resulting patient safety concerns, England implemented a policy of general practitioners working in or alongside emergency departments. Thirteen hospitals using this service model were included in this study to explore care processes and patient safety concerns. Findings are grouped into three care processes: facilitating appropriate streaming decisions, supporting GPs’ clinical decision making, and improving communication between services.
Liu C, McKenzie A, Sutkin G. J Surg Edu. 2021;78(6):1938-1947.
Communication failures are a common cause of patient harm. This qualitative study found that potentially ambiguous language is common in surgical training settings. In addition to creating challenges for trainee comprehension of surgical instruction, ambiguous language can lead to miscommunications and near misses.
Mital R, Lovegrove MC, Moro RN, et al. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2021;Epub Nov 11.
Accidental ingestion of over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines (CCMs) among children can result in adverse events. This study used national surveillance data to characterize emergency department (ED) visits for harms related to OTC CCM use and discusses differences by patient demographics, intent of use, and concurrent substance use.

Ruskin KJ, ed. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2021;34(6):720-765

Anesthesia services are high risk despite progress made in the specialty to improve its safety. This special section covers issues that affect anesthesia safety such as critical incident debriefing, human factors, and educational strategies.
Marufu TC, Bower R, Hendron E, et al. J Pediatr Nurs. 2021;Epub Sep 12.
Medication errors threaten patient safety and can result in adverse outcomes. This systematic review identified seven types of nursing interventions used to reduce medication administration errors in pediatric and neonatal patients: education programs, medication information services, clinical pharmacist involvement, double checking, barriers to reduce interruptions during drug calculation and preparation, use of smart pumps, and improvement strategies (e.g., checklists, process or policy changes). Meta-analysis pooling results from various types of interventions demonstrated a 64% reduction in medication administration errors.
Okpalauwaekwe U, Tzeng H-M. Patient Relat Outcome Meas. 2021;12:323-337.
Patients transferred from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are vulnerable to adverse events. This scoping review identified common extrinsic factors contributing to adverse events among older adults during rehabilitation stays at skilled nursing facilities, including inappropriate medication usage, polypharmacy, environmental hazards, poor communication between staff, lack of resident safety plans, and poor quality of care due to racial bias, organizational issues, and administrative issues.
Gillespie BM, Harbeck EL, Rattray M, et al. Int J Surg. 2021;95:106136.
Surgical site infections (SSI) are a common, yet largely preventable, complication of surgery which can result in increased length of stay and hospital readmission. In this review of 57 studies, the cumulative incidence of SSI was 11% in adult general surgical patients and was associated with increased length of stay (with variation by types of surgery).