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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.

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.
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.
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.
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).
Nassery N, Horberg MA, Rubenstein KB, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8(4):469-478.
Building on prior research on missed myocardial infarction, this study used the SPADE approach to identify delays in sepsis diagnosis. Using claims data, researchers used a ‘look back’ analysis to identify treat-and-release emergency department (ED) visits in the month prior to sepsis hospitalizations and identify common diagnoses linked to downstream sepsis hospitalizations.
Ang D, Nieto K, Sutherland M, et al. Am Surg. 2021;Epub Nov 12.
Patient safety indicators (PSI) are measures that focus on quality of care and potentially preventable adverse events. This study estimated odds of preventable mortality of older adults with traumatic injuries and identified the PSIs that are associated with the highest level of preventable mortality.  Strategies to reduce preventable mortality in older adults are presented (e.g. utilization of national guidelines, minimization of central venous catheter use, addressing polypharmacy).
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.
Hoang R, Sampsel K, Willmore A, et al. CJEM. 2021;23(6):767-771.
The emergency department (ED) is a complex and high-risk environment. In this study, patient deaths occurring within 7 days of ED discharge were analyzed to determine if the deaths were anticipated or unanticipated and/or due to medical error. Rates of unanticipated death due to medical error were low, however clinicians should consider related patient, provider, and system factors.

Bergl PA, Nanchal RS, eds. Crit Care Clin. 2022;38(1):1-158.

Critical care diagnosis is complicated by factors such as stress, patient acuity and uncertainty. This special issue summarizes individual and process challenges to the safety of diagnosis in critical care. Articles included examine educational approaches, teamwork and rethinking care processes as improvement strategies.

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.
Bennion J, Mansell SK. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2021;82(8):1-8.
Many strategies have been developed to improve recognition of, and response, to clinically deteriorating patients. This review found that simulation-based educational strategies was the most effective educational method for training staff to recognize unwell patients. However, the quality of evidence was low and additional research into simulation-based education is needed.
Heitkamp A, Meulenbroek A, van Roosmalen J, et al. Bull World Health Organ. 2021;99(10):693-707F.
Maternal safety is a patient safety priority. According to this systematic review including 69 studies, the maternal near miss incidence rate is estimated to be 15.9 cases per 1,000 live births in lower-middle income countries and 7.8 cases per 1,000 live births in upper-middle-income countries. The most common causes of near miss were obstetric hemorrhage and hypertensive disorders.