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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.

ECHO-Care Transitions (ECHO-CT) intends to ensure continuity of care and alleviate the risk of patient safety issues, notably medication errors, occurring because of hospital transition. With funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) adapted Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) to connect receiving multidisciplinary skilled nursing facility (SNF) teams with a multidisciplinary team at the discharging hospital. Within one week of discharge, hospital providers discuss each patient’s transitional and medical issues with providers at the SNF using videoconferencing technology. The innovation has successfully reduced patient readmission and SNF length of stay.

Werner NE, Rutkowski RA, Krause S, et al. Appl Ergon. 2021;96:103509.
Shared mental models contribute to effective team collaboration and communication. Based on interviews and thematic analysis, the authors explored mental models between the emergency department (ED) and skilled nursing facility (SNF). The authors found that these healthcare professionals had misaligned mental models regarding communication during care transitions and healthcare setting capability, and that these misalignments led to consequences for patients, professionals, and the organization.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May 3, 2021. Fed Register. 2021;86(83):23366-23369.

This notice announces a call for comments on an information collection project drawing from the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP). This project will support the implementation of targeted hospital-acquired infection improvement initiatives in intensive care units, long term care and surgical environments to reduce the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The process for submitting comments is now closed.
Mills PD, Soncrant C, Gunnar W. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30(7):567-576.
This retrospective analysis used root cause analysis reports of suicide events in VA hospitals to characterize suicide attempts and deaths and provide prevention recommendations. Recommendations include avoidance of environmental hazards, medication monitoring, control of firearms, and close observation.
Buljac-Samardzic M, Doekhie KD, van Wijngaarden JDH. Hum Resourc Health. 2020;18.
This systematic review is an update of prior research characterizing the evidence base on team effectiveness in healthcare organizations. The review analyzed 297 publications focused on three types of interventions: (1) training, including crew resource management, TeamSTEPPS and simulations, (2) tools, including SBARs and checklists, and (3) organizational (re)designs, which involves intervening in structures which lead to improved team functioning (such as changing the physical environment or altering roles/responsibilities). The authors found that existing evidence base is limited to certain interventions, settings (primarily acute care), and outcomes (primarily non-technical skills). The authors call for more longitudinal research, particularly examining team functioning outside the hospital setting.
Ricciardi R, Shofer M. J Nurs Care Qual. 2019;34:1-3.
This commentary discusses the importance of the nurse-patient relationship and engagement with patients and their family members to improve patient safety practices. The article also provides an overview of AHRQ resources intended to facilitate engagement between providers and their patients and family members.
Callinan SM, Brandt NJ. J Gerontol Nurs. 2015;41(7):8-13.
Highlighting risks associated with transitions of older patients between the emergency department and long-term care, this commentary describes strategies to improve communication, and subsequently medication safety, as these patients move from one care environment to another.
A man with a long history of opioid dependence (and smoking) went to a substance abuse program for detoxification. The patient received buprenorphine/naloxone and was found unresponsive and cyanotic a few hours later. He was diagnosed with opiate-induced respiratory distress complicated by pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Interrupted during a telephone handoff, an ED physician, despite limited information, must treat a patient in respiratory arrest. The patient is stabilized and transferred to the ICU with a presumed diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia and septic shock. Later, ICU physicians obtain further history that leads to the correct diagnosis: pulmonary embolism.
Rowin EJ, Lucier D, Pauker SG, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2008;34:537-45.
Hospital incident reporting systems are ubiquitous but limited, as their voluntary nature results in many events going unreported. Prior research has documented that physicians, in particular, do not file incident reports. This evaluation of more than 260,000 incident reports from a broad cross-section of hospitals examined links between the severity of the incident and who reported the incident. Physicians reported only 1.1% of all events, similar to a prior study using the same incident reporting system, but physicians did tend to report incidents that caused more harm to patients. A successful intervention to improve physician incident reporting was described in a prior study.
Despite having a signed DNR (do not resuscitate) form, an elderly man brought to the emergency department with severe pain was rushed to the operating room for urgent abdominal aortic aneurysm repair.