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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.

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.
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.

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.
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).
Gadallah A, McGinnis B, Nguyen B, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2021;43(5):1404-1411.
This comparison study assessed the impact of virtual pharmacy technicians (vCPhT) obtaining best possible medication histories from patients admitted to the hospital from the emergency department.  The rates of unintentional discrepancies per medication and incomplete medication histories were significantly lower for vCPhT than other clinicians. Length of stay, readmissions, and emergency department visits were similar for both groups.
De Cassai A, Negro S, Geraldini F, et al. PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0257508.
Inattentional blindness occurs when individuals miss an unexpected event due to competing attentional tasks.  This study asked anesthesiologists to review the anesthetic management of five simulated cases, one of which included the image of a gorilla in the radiograph, to evaluate inattentional blindness. Only 4.9% of social media respondents reported an abnormality, suggesting that inattentional blindness may be common; the authors suggest several strategies to reduce this error.

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.
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.

A 78-year-old woman with macular degeneration presented for a pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) under monitored anesthesia care (MAC) with an eye block. At this particular hospital, eye cases under MAC are typically performed with an eye block by the surgeon after the anesthesiologist has administered some short-acting sedation, commonly with remifentanil. On this day, there was a shortage of premixed remifentanil and the resident – who was unfamiliar with the process of drug dilution – incorrectly diluted the remifentanil solution.

Budnitz DS, Shehab N, Lovegrove MC, et al. JAMA. 2021;326(13):1299.
Previous studies have utilized data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance Project (NEISS) to analyze harms from medication use. This study uses updated NEISS data to also describe harms from nontherapeutic medication use. Visits to emergency departments for medication adverse events varied by age group, medication class, and intent of use.
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.

This case describes multiple emergency department (ED) encounters and hospitalizations experienced by a middle-aged woman with sickle cell crisis and a past history of multiple, long admissions related to her sickle cell disease. The multiple encounters highlight the challenges of opioid prescribing for patients with chronic, non-cancer pain.

Medication administration errors are a common source of patient harm. Developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), MED.Safe is an automated software package designed to monitor high-risk intravenous (IV) medications in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and identify medication administration discrepancies.

Gregory H, Cantley M, Calhoun C, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2021;46:266-270.
Medication safety continues to be a challenge in most healthcare settings, including emergency departments. In this academic emergency department, an overall error rate of 16.5% was observed, including errors in directions, quantity prescribed, and prescriptions written with refills. Involving a pharmacist at discharge may increase patient safety.
Keister LA, Stecher C, Aronson B, et al. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1):1518.
Constrained diagnostic situations in the emergency department (ED), such as crowding, can impact safe care. Based on multiple years of electronic health record data from one ED at a large U.S. hospital, researchers found that providers were significantly less likely to prescribe opioids during constrained diagnostic situations and less likely to prescribe opioids to high-risk patients or racial/ethnic minorities.