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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.

A 52-year-old woman presented for a lumpectomy with lymphoscintigraphy and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) after being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DICS). On the day of surgery, the patient was met in the pre-operative unit by several different providers (pre-operative nurse, resident physician, attending physician, and anethesiology team) to help prepare her for the procedure. In the OR, the surgical team performed two separate time-outs while the patient was being prepped, placed under general anesthesia, and draped.

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.
Loren DL, Lyerly AD, Lipira L, et al. J Patient Saf Risk Manag. 2021;26(5):200-206.
Effective communication between patients and providers – including after an adverse event – is essential for patient safety. This qualitative study identified unique challenges experienced by parents and providers when communicating about adverse birth outcomes – high expectations, powerful emotions, rapid change and progression, family involvement, multiple patients and providers involved, and litigious environment. The authors outline strategies recommended by parents and providers to address these challenges.
Bernstein SL, Kelechi TJ, Catchpole K, et al. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2021;Epub Sep 6.
Failure to rescue, the delayed or missed recognition of a potentially fatal complication that results in the patient’s death, is particularly tragic in obstetric care. Using the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) framework, the authors describe the work system, process, and outcomes related to failure to rescue, and develop intervention theories.

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.

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.
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.
Ranum D, Beverly A, Shapiro FE, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(7):513-521.
This analysis of medical malpractice claims identified four leading causes of anesthesia-related claims involving ambulatory surgery centers – dental injuries, pain, nerve damage, and death. The authors discuss the role of preoperative risk assessment, use of routine dental and airway assessment, adequate treatment of perioperative pain, and improving communication between patients and providers.

This piece discusses an expanded view of maternal and infant safety that includes the concept of whole-person care, which addresses the structural and social determinants of maternal health.

Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, is a professor and Division Director for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and the co-director of the Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health. Kristin Tully, PhD, is a research assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UNC Chapel Hill and a member of the Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health.

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.

A 44-year-old man presented to his primary care physician (PCP) with complaints of new onset headache, photophobia, and upper respiratory tract infections. He had a recent history of interferon treatment for Hepatitis C infection and a remote history of cervical spine surgery requiring permanent spinal hardware. On physical examination, his neck was tender, but he had no neurologic abnormalities. He was sent home from the clinic with advice to take over-the-counter analgesics.

Combs CA, Einerson BD, Toner LE. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021;225(5):b43-b49.
Maternal and newborn safety is challenged during cesarean delivery due to the complexities of the practice. This guideline recommends specific checklist elements to direct coordination and communication between the two teams engaged in cesarean deliveries. The guideline provides a sample checklist and steps for its implementation.

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.

Nasca BJ, Bilimoria KY, Yang AD. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47(9):604-607.
Surgical safety has made advances while new difficulties continuously emerge. This article suggests that the specialties capitalize on artificial intelligence and professional wellness as two avenues to generate sustainable safety progress.

A 31-year-old woman presented to the ED with worsening shortness of breath and was unexpectedly found to have a moderate-sized left pneumothorax, which was treated via a thoracostomy tube. After additional work-up and computed tomography (CT) imaging, she was told that she had some blebs and mild emphysema, but was discharged without any specific follow-up instructions except to see her primary care physician.

Vaghani V, Wei L, Mushtaq U, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28(10):2202-2211.
Based on the SaferDx and SPADE frameworks, researchers applied a symptom-disease pair-based electronic trigger (e-trigger) to identify patients hospitalized for stroke who had been previously discharged from the emergency department with a diagnosis of headache or dizziness in the preceding 30 days. Analyses show that the e-trigger identified missed diagnoses of stroke with a modest positive predictive value.