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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.

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.

ECRI and Institute for Safe Medication Practices. January 2022 through May 2022.

Collaboratives provide teams with active learning and improvement opportunities based on the experiences of others working toward a collective goal. This collaborative will target safety during surgical procedures. The discussions protected under the sponsors’ Patient Safety Organization status will explore improvement topics such as medication errors and surgical site infections.

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.

National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health. Manchester, UK: University of Manchester; May 31, 2021

System failures require multifactorial assessment to install targeted improvements. This toolkit examines 10 areas of focus for organizations to assess the safety of mental health services in emergent and primary care settings to minimize patient suicide and self-harm. Areas of focus include post-discharge follow-up, admissions, and family engagement.
US Food and Drug Administration. October 7, 2021.
Errors of commission during complex procedures can contribute to patient harm. Drawing from an analysis of medical device reports submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, this updated announcement seeks to raise awareness of common adverse events associated with surgical staplers and implantable staples. User-related problems include opening of the staple line, misapplied staples, and staple gun difficulties. Recommendations include ensuring availability of various staple sizes and avoiding use of staples on large blood vessels.

Bajaj K, de Roche A, Goffman D. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2021. AHRQ Publication No. 20(21)-0040-6-EF.

Maternal safety is threatened by systemic biases, care complexities, and diagnostic issues. This issue brief explores the role of diagnostic error in maternal morbidity and mortality, the preventability of common problems such as maternal hemorrhage, and the importance of multidisciplinary efforts to realize improvement. The brief focuses on events occurring during childbirth and up to a week postpartum.

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.

MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; August 20, 2021.

Delays in treatment due to device misuse or design flaws can result in patient harm. This recall announcement highlights the omission of instructions describing a distinct device feature that, if a surgeon is unaware of it, reduces emergent umbilical vein catheter placement safety. Two deaths have been reported due to problems with the device.

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.
MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; August 20, 2021.
This announcement seeks to raise awareness of the potential risks associated with the use of robotic-assisted surgical devices in mastectomies or cancer-related care. Recommendations for patients who may seek to have robotically assisted surgery include asking about their surgeon's experience with these procedures and discussing benefits, risks, and alternatives regarding available treatment options with their health care provider. Suggestions for health care providers include completing specialized training on procedures they perform. A WebM&M commentary described the challenges and benefits associated with robotic surgery.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
This organization highlights the importance of in-depth reporting and investigation of adverse events in labor and delivery, involving parents in the analysis, engaging external experts to gain broader perspectives about what occurred, and focusing on system factors that contribute to failures. A WebM&M commentary discusses how lapses in fetal monitoring can miss signs of distress that result in harm. The reporting initiative closed in 2021 after presenting its final report. Investigations in this area will now be undertaken by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch in England.

Mangus CW, Singh H, Mahajan P. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; February 2021. AHRQ Publication No. 20(21)-0040-4-EF.

Health information technology (Health IT) presents opportunities to engage patients and families in decision making. This issue brief highlights health IT tools that can close this communication gap to engage patients in diagnosis in the emergency room. This brief is part of a publication series examining diagnostic improvement across health care.

Silver Spring, MD: Division of Industry and Consumer Education, US Food and Drug Administration; February 9. 2021.

Lack of access to ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis has necessitated care compromises to support multiple patients. This situation can reduce the effectiveness of monitoring patients on shared devices and introduce other challenges. This communication provides insights to enhance the safety of multiple-patient ventilator use.

MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; January 27, 2021.  

Labeling mistakes in the pharmaceutical production cycle can remain undetected until the affected medication reaches a patient. This alert reports a recall of a neuromuscular blocker for use in surgery due to it being mislabeled as a medication to increase blood pressure. 

Office of the Inspector General: Washington DC; December 2020. OIG report OEI-06-17-00530.

Challenges beset safe care delivery for indigenous peoples. This report examines factors contributing to adverse events in this patient population. Recommendations for improvement include an emphasis on harm monitoring and incident reporting. A related report examines the lack of application of maternity best practices in the Indian Health Service.
Fillo KT. Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, Department of Public Health. Boston, MA: Commonwealth of Massachusetts; 2020.
This annual report compiles patient safety data documented by Massachusetts hospitals. The latest numbers represent a modest increase in serious reportable events recorded in acute care hospitals, from 1066 the previous year to 1189. This presentation also includes events from ambulatory surgery centers. Previous years reports are also available.

Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; September 3, 2020. Report No 19-09493-249.

Discontinuities in mental health care are a patient safety concern. This report analyzes how documentation gaps, medication reconciliation problems, and poor care coordination contributed to the suicide of a patient who presented at an emergency room, was screened there, and referred to a clinic for further care that was not completed.

Office of the Inspector General. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs; July 28, 2020. Report Number 19-07507-214.

Patient suicide is a never event. This report analyzes the death of a veteran after presenting at an emergency room with suicidal ideation. The analysis found lack of both suicide prevention policy adherence and appropriate assessment, as well as a lack concern for the patient’s condition contributed to the failure.