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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.

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.
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.
Flowerdew L, Tipping M. Emerg Med J. 2021;38(10):769-775.
This study sought to validate an emergency department (ED) safety questionnaire developed in the United States, and adapted for use in the UK. The survey was validated by 33 patient safety leads and used in a multi-center survey. Analysis highlighted risks and positive factors (e.g., positive safety culture) present in surveyed EDs.
Urban D, Burian BK, Patel K, et al. Ann Surg. 2021;2(3):e075.
The WHO surgical safety checklist has been implemented in healthcare systems around the world. Survey responses from 2,032 surgical team members from high-income countries suggest that most respondents perceive the checklist as enhancing patient safety, but that not all team members are engaging with its use or feel confident in their role in the checklist process.
Hennus MP, Young JQ, Hennessy M, et al. ATS Sch. 2021;2(3):397-414.
The surge of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the redeployment of non-intensive care certified staff into intensive care units (ICU). This study surveyed both intensive care (IC)-certified and non-IC-certified healthcare providers who were working in ICUs at the beginning of the pandemic. Qualitative synthesis identified five themes related to supervision; quality and safety of care; collaboration, communication, and climate; recruitment, scheduling and team composition, and; organization and facilities. The authors provide recommendations for future deployments.
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.
Skoogh A, Hall-Lord ML, Bååth C, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21(1):1093.
Improving maternal safety is a priority patient safety issue. Using the Global Trigger Tool, researchers found that nearly three-quarters of adverse events in one labor ward in a Swedish hospital were preventable. Common events included lacerations and anesthesia-related events and often resulted in a prolonged hospital stay.

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.
Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(7):e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
Huynh I, Rajendran T. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(3):e001363.
Unintentional therapeutic duplication can lead to life-threatening complications. As part of a quality improvement project on a surgical ward, staff were educated about the risks of therapeutic duplication and strategies to decrease it. After one month of education and reminders, the rate of therapeutic duplication decreased by more than half.
Ellis R, Hardie JA, Summerton DJ, et al. Surg. 2021;59(7):752-756.
Many non-urgent, non-cancer surgeries were postponed or canceled during COVID-19 surges resulting in a potential loss of surgeons’ “currency”. This commentary discusses the benefits of, and barriers to, dual surgeon operating as a way to increase currency as elective surgeries are resumed.
Grailey K, Leon-Villapalos C, Murray E, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11(8):e046699.
Psychological safety enables staff to raise concerns, reduce mistakes and learn from errors. The majority of surveyed intensive care unit staff in three units within one trust in London reported feeling psychologically safe within their teams (e.g. being able to bring up problems). In a novel finding, this study identified potential negative consequences of psychological safety, including distraction and fatigue for team leaders.
Kaya GK. Appl Ergon. 2021;94:103408.
A systems approach provides a framework to analyze errors and improve safety. This study uses the Systems Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA) to analyze risks related to pediatric sepsis treatment process. Fifty-four safety recommendations were identified, the majority of which were organizational factors (e.g., communication, organizational culture).

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.

Adams-McGavin RC, Jung JJ, van Dalen ASHM, et al. Ann Surg. 2021;274(1):114-119.
Resilience is the process of identifying and overcoming unexpected adverse events. By reviewing video, audio, and patient physiologic data recorded during 24 laparoscopic surgeries, researchers were able to identify safety threats and resilience supports used to overcome them. Of the six category codes, (person, task, tools and technology, physical environment, organization, and external environment) most safety threats and supports were in the person category.
Urquhart A, Yardley S, Thomas E, et al. J R Soc Med. 2021;Epub Aug 4.
This mixed-methods study analyzed patient safety incident reports between 2005-2015 to characterize the most frequently reported incidents resulting in severe harm or death in acute medical units. Of the 377 included reports, diagnostic errors, medication-related errors, and failure to monitor patient incidents were most common. Patients were at highest risk during handoffs and transitions of care. Lack of active decision-making during admission and communication failures were the most common contributors to incidents.