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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.
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.
Winning AM, Merandi J, Rausch JR, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(8):531-540.
Healthcare professionals involved in a medical error often experience psychological distress. This article describes the validation of a revised version of the Second Victim Experience and Support Tool (SVEST-R), which was expanded to include measures of resilience and desired forms of support.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Hoang R, Sampsel K, Willmore A, et al. CJEM. 2021;23(6):767-771.
The emergency department (ED) is a complex and high-risk environment. In this study, patient deaths occurring within 7 days of ED discharge were analyzed to determine if the deaths were anticipated or unanticipated and/or due to medical error. Rates of unanticipated death due to medical error were low, however clinicians should consider related patient, provider, and system factors.
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.
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.
Sotto KT, Burian BK, Brindle ME. J Am Coll Surg. 2021;Epub Oct 1.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist has been implemented in healthcare systems around the world. This systematic review and thematic analysis concluded that the surgical safety checklist positively impacts clinical outcomes (surgical outcomes and mortality), process measures, team dynamics, and communication, as well as safety culture. The authors note that the checklist was negatively associated with efficiency and workload; included studies often noted that checklist users felt the checklist slowed down processes within the operating room
Burden AR, Potestio C, Pukenas E. Adv Anesth. 2021;39:133-148.
Handoffs occur several times during a perioperative encounter, increasing the risk of communication errors. Structured handoffs, such as situation-background-assessment-recommendation (SBAR) and checklists, have been shown to improve communication between providers during anesthesia care. The authors discuss how these tools and other processes can improve shared understanding of effective handoffs.
Krishnan S, Wheeler KK, Pimentel MP, et al. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;Epub Oct 28.
Incident reporting systems are used to detect patient safety concerns and determine potential causes and opportunities for improvements. In the perioperative setting of one hospital, insufficient handoffs were the most common event type in the “coordination of care” category. Use of structured handoffs is recommended to improve communication and patient safety.