The AHRQ PSNet Collection comprises an extensive selection of resources relevant to the patient safety community. These resources come in a variety of formats, including literature, research, tools, and Web sites. Resources are identified using the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database, various news and content aggregators, and the expertise of the AHRQ PSNet editorial and technical teams.
Medical errors should be examined in the context of system failure to generate lasting opportunities for learning and improvement. This commentary discusses the AHRQ 2022 report entitled Diagnostic Errors in the Emergency Department: a Systematic Review and suggests a focus on care delivery processes over individuals, definitions, error rate review, and system design as noteworthy approaches to error reduction.
Reyes AM, Royan R, Feinglass J, et al. JAMA Surg. 2023;Epub Jan 18.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to poor outcomes. In this population-based retrospective longitudinal study using inpatient and emergency department discharge data from four states, researchers found that non-Hispanic Black patients were at higher risk for delayed diagnosis of appendicitis compared to White patients. This increased risk for delayed diagnosis translated into higher risks for postoperative 30-day readmission rates. The researchers found that this risk was mitigated when Black patients received care at hospitals serving a more diverse patient population.
Atallah F, Hamm RF, Davidson CM, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022;227:b2-b10.
The reduction of cognitive bias is generating increased interest as a diagnostic error reduction strategy. This statement introduces the concept of cognitive bias and discusses methods to manage the presence of bias in obstetrics such as debiasing training and teamwork.
Shafer GJ, Singh H, Thomas EJ, et al. J Perinatol. 2022;42:1312-1318.
Patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are at risk for serious patient safety threats. In this retrospective review of 600 consecutive inborn NICU admissions, researchers found that the frequency of diagnostic errors among inborn NICU patients during the first seven days of admission was 6.2%.
Halsey-Nichols M, McCoin N. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2021;39:703-717.
Diagnostic errors among patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with abdominal pain are common. This article summarizes the factors associated with missed diagnoses of abdominal pain in the ED, the types of abdominal pain that are commonly misdiagnosed, and recommended steps for discharging a patient with abdominal pain without a final diagnosis.
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, collaborative initiatives, teamwork, and trigger tools.
Autopsies are an important tool for detecting misdiagnoses. Autopsies were performed on 32 septic individuals who died within 48 hours of admission to the intensive care unit. Of those, four patients were found to have class I missed major diagnosis. These results underscore the need to perform autopsies to improve diagnosis.
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.
Hensgens RL, El Moumni M, IJpma FFA, et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2020;46:1367-1374.
Missed injuries and delayed diagnoses are an ongoing problem in trauma care. This cohort study conducted at a large trauma center found that inter-hospital transfer of severely injured patients increases the risk of delayed detection of injuries. For half of these patients, the new diagnoses led to a change in treatment course. These findings highlight the importance of clinician vigilance when assessing trauma patients.
Stark N, Kerrissey M, Grade M, et al. West J Emerg Med. 2020;21:1095-1101.
This article describes the development and implementation of a digital tool to centralize and standardize COVID-19-related resources for use in the emergency department (ED). Clinician feedback suggests confirms that the tool has affected their management of COVID-19 patients. The tool was found to be easily adaptable to accommodate rapidly evolving guidance and enable organizational capacity for improvisation and resiliency.
Plint AC, Stang A, Newton AS, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:216-227.
This article describes emergency department (ED)-related adverse events in pediatric patients presenting to the ED at a pediatric hospital in Canada over a one-year period. Among 1,319 patients at 3-months follow-up, 33 patients (2.5%) reported an adverse event related to their ED care. The majority of these events (88%) were preventable. Most of the events involved diagnostic (45.5%) or management issues (51.5%) and resulted in symptoms lasting more than one day (72.7%).
Isbell LM, Boudreaux ED, Chimowitz H, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2020;29:815–825.
Research has suggested that health care providers’ emotions may impact patient safety. These authors conducted 86 semi-structured interviews with emergency department (ED) nurses and physicians to better understand their emotional triggers, beliefs about emotional influences on patient safety, and emotional management strategies. Patients often triggered both positive and negative emotions; hospital- or systems-level factors primarily triggered negative emotions. Providers were aware that negative emotions can adversely impact clinical decision-making and place patients at risk; future research should explore whether emotional regulation strategies can mitigate these safety risks.
This retrospective cohort study used root cause analysis (RCA) to examine safety reports from emergency departments at Veterans Health Administration hospitals over a two-year period. Of the 144 cases identified, the majority involved delays in care (26%), elopements (15%), suicide attempts and deaths (10%), inappropriate discharges (10%) and errors following procedures (10%). RCA revealed that primary contributory factors leading to adverse events were knowledge/educational deficits (11%) and policies/procedures that were either inadequate (11%) or lacking standardization (10%).
Jones A, Johnstone M-J. Aust Crit Care. 2017;30:219-223.
This qualitative study combined the narratives of various critical care nurses into four representative scenarios demonstrating failure to recognize clinically deteriorating patients. The authors describe inattentional blindness, a concept in which individuals in high-complexity environments can miss an important event because of competing attentional tasks, as a key factor in these failure-to-rescue events.
Jones SL, Ashton CM, Kiehne L, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2015;41:483-91.
A protocolized early warning system to improve sepsis recognition and management was associated with a decrease in sepsis-related inpatient mortality. The protocol emphasized early recognition by nurses and escalation of care by a nurse practitioner when indicated. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary describes common errors in the early management of sepsis.
Hudspeth J, El-Kareh R, Schiff G. Appl Clin Inform. 2015;06:619-628.
Retrospective case reviews are a common method to identify potential adverse events. Because these reviews can be time-intensive, electronic trigger tools are frequently used to expedite screening. This study describes the use of an expedited review tool to detect possible, probable, and definite diagnostic errors in the emergency department. Errors were identified as “definite” or “probable” in 2.6% of cases and as “possible” in another 7%. Use of the trigger tool reduces the mean review time by nearly ten minutes.
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