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Fischer H, Hahn EE, Li BH, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:222-232.
While falls are common in older adults, there was a 31% increase in death due to falls in the U.S. from 2007-2016, partially associated with the increase in older adults in the population. This mixed methods study looked at the prevalence, risk factors, and contributors to potentially harmful medication dispensed after a fall/fracture of patients using the Potentially Harmful Drug-Disease Interactions in the Elderly (HEDIS DDE) codes. There were 113,809 patients with a first time fall; 35.4% had high-risk medications dispensed after their first fall. Interviews with 22 physicians identified patient reluctance to report falls and inconsistent assessment, and documentation of falls made it challenging to consider falls when prescribing medications.
Slikkerveer M, van de Plas A, Driessen JHM, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e587-e592.
Anticoagulants, such as low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), are known to be high-risk for adverse drug events. This cross-sectional study identified prescribing errors – primarily lack of dosage adjustment for body weight and/or renal function – among one-third of LMWH users admitted to one hospital over a five-month period.

Trauma staff at The Alfred Hospital use a computerized decision support system to guide the care of patients during the critical first 60 minutes of resuscitation. Known as the Trauma Reception and Resuscitation System (TR&R®), this program generates prompts based on more than 40 algorithms and real-time clinical data, including patient vital signs and information entered by a trauma nurse. Displayed on a large overhead monitor, these prompts are used by clinicians to direct the care of trauma patients and to facilitate documentation and communication.

Stark N, Kerrissey M, Grade M, et al. West J Emerg Med. 2020;21:1095-1101.
This article describes the development and implementation of a digital tool to centralize and standardize COVID-19-related resources for use in the emergency department (ED). Clinician feedback suggests confirms that the tool has affected their management of COVID-19 patients. The tool was found to be easily adaptable to accommodate rapidly evolving guidance and enable organizational capacity for improvisation and resiliency.  

Philadelphia, PA: Pew Charitable Trusts; July 21, 2020.

Tracking problems with health information technology (Health IT) is an important strategy to drive improvement. This report outlines general health IT and decision support actions to inform action, and discusses the role that regulation and accreditation have for driving improvement.
Vidrine R, Zackoff M, Paff Z, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;46:299-307.
Early recognition and treatment of sepsis is a critical safety issue. The authors of this study aimed to reduce the frequency of delayed sepsis recognition in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) through the use of an automated clinical decision support tool (CDS) prompting multidisciplinary sepsis huddles. After a two-year period, the average number of days between episodes of delayed sepsis recognition improved from one episode every 9 days to one every 28 days, and the median time to antibiotics decreased from 1.53 hours to 1.05 hours, representing a significant reduction.
Ann D. Gaffey, RN, MSN, CPHRM, DFASHRM is the President of Healthcare Risk and Safety Strategies, LLC. Bruce Spurlock, MD is the President and CEO of Cynosure Health. We spoke with them about their role in the development of the Making Healthcare Safer III Report and what new information they think audiences will find particularly useful and interesting.

Holmes A, Long A, Wyant B, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2020. AHRQ Publication No. 20-0029-EF.

This newly issued follow up to the seminal AHRQ Making Health Care Safer report (first published in 2001 and updated in 2013 critically examines the evidence supporting 47 separate patient safety practices chosen for the high-impact harms they address. It includes diagnostic errors, failure to rescue, sepsis, infections due to multi-drug resistant organisms, adverse drug events and nursing-sensitive conditions. The report discusses the evidence on cross-cutting safety practices, including safety culture, teamwork and team training, clinical decision support, patient and family engagement, cultural competency, staff education and training, and monitoring, audit and feedback. The report provides recommendations for clinicians and decision-makers on effective patient safety practices.
Dr. Chopra is Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. His research focuses on improving the safety of hospitalized patients by preventing hospital-acquired complications—particularly those associated with peripherally inserted central catheters.
Judson TJ, Press MJ, Detsky AS. Healthc (Amst). 2019;7:4-6.
Health care is working to provide high-value care and prevent overuse while ensuring patient safety. This commentary highlights the importance of educational initiatives, mentors, and use of clinical decision support to help clinicians determine what amount of care is appropriate for a given clinical situation.
Schmidt PE, Meredith P, Prytherch DR, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2015;24:10-20.
Many patients show physiological signs of worsening for several hours prior to requiring more aggressive interventions and transfer to a higher level of care. Rapid response teams have been widely deployed to address this problem, but this approach is fundamentally reactive rather than proactive and has had mixed results so far. This time series study utilized an electronic physiological surveillance system—a real-time decision support system based on patients' vital signs—embedded within the electronic medical record to provide guidance for clinicians in determining patients at risk for deterioration and optimizing treatment intensity. Implementation of the electronic physiological surveillance system was associated with a statistically significant reduction in mortality for a broad range of diagnoses at both hospitals. The results of this study illustrate the potential of novel information technology approaches for prospectively identifying patients at risk for clinical harm.
Micek ST, Heard KM, Gowan M, et al. Crit Care Med. 2014;42:1832-8.
A decision support alert within an electronic medical record was able to identify patients with health care–associated infections (HAIs) who were being administered inappropriate antibiotic therapy. These findings suggest that clinical decision support systems can improve safety of antibiotic prescribing for intensive care unit patients with suspected HAIs.
McCoy AB, Waitman LR, Lewis JB, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012;19:346-52.
Increasing adoption of clinical decision support systems (CDSS) is driven by evidence that a well-designed system may impact provider behavior, medication safety, and patient outcomes. This study developed a framework to assess the clinical appropriateness of alerts, and applied the framework to alerts designed for patients with acute kidney injury. The authors identified rates of false positive alerts, alert overrides, provider non-adherence, and provider response appropriateness. Using their proposed framework, they advocate for systematic approaches to implementing and evaluating CDSS to optimize alert adherence and minimize alert overrides. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed integrating CDSS to improve medication safety.
Fitzgerald M, Cameron P, Mackenzie C, et al. Arch Surg. 2011;146:218-25.
Accurate initial assessment and resuscitation of trauma patients is critical to ensuring correct treatment and survival, and although standardized algorithms have been developed for initial trauma evaluation, errors are not uncommon. This innovative randomized controlled trial implemented a computerized clinician decision support system (CDSS) to ensure adherence to standardized protocols for trauma resuscitation, and used video capture of trauma resuscitations to assess the effects of the CDSS on patient outcomes. Use of the CDSS resulted in significantly reduced errors, and also reduced morbidity compared to standard treatment. This study demonstrates the utility of a CDSS in a fast-paced, high-acuity environment.
Hravnak M, Edwards L, Clontz A, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:1300-8.
A continuous physiologic monitoring system appeared to detect physiologic instability earlier than standard monitoring techniques. Prior research has questioned the false negative rate of such systems, but that problem was not noted in this study.
A woman with symptoms of sinusitis was given 2 different courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, neither of which improved her symptoms. Hospitalized for autoimmune hemolysis (presumably from the antibiotic), the patient suffered multiorgan failure and septic shock, and died.