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Mills PD, Watts BV, Hemphill RR. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e423-e428.
Researchers reviewed 15 years of root cause analysis reports of all instances of suicide and suicide attempts on Veterans Health Administration (VHA) grounds. Forty-seven suicides or suicide attempts were identified, and primary root causes included communication breakdown and a need for improved suicide interventions. The paper includes recommended actions to address the root causes of attempted and completed patient suicides.
Shao Q, Wang Y, Hou K, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2021;77:4005-4016.
Patient suicide in all settings is considered a never event. Nurses caring for the patient may experience negative psychological symptoms following inpatient suicide. This review identified five themes based on nurses’ psychological experiences: emotional experience, cognitive experience, coping strategies, self-reflection, and impact on self and practice. Hospital administrators should develop education and support programs to help nurses cope in the aftermath of inpatient suicide.  
Sharma AE, Yang J, Del Rosario JB, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:5-14.
Ambulatory care settings are receiving increased attention as a focus for patient safety improvements. Using data from a multistate patient safety organization (PSO) database, the researchers sought to characterize patterns and characteristics of patient safety incidents reported in ambulatory care settings. Analyses found that 5.9% of events resulted in severe harm and 1.9% resulted in patient death. Over half of the events were from outpatient subspecialty care; fewer events occurred in home/community (5.2%), primary care (2.1%), or dialysis (2.0%) settings. Medication-related events were most common, followed by clinical deterioration and falls. Predictors of higher harm included diagnostic errors, patient/caregiver challenges, and events occurring in home/community or psychiatric settings. These results can help ambulatory care settings target safety events and develop systems-level prevention strategies.  
Mills PD, Soncrant C, Gunnar W. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:567-576.
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.
Berzins K, Baker J, Louch G, et al. Health Expect. 2020;23:549-561.
This qualitative study interviewed patients and caregivers about their experiences and perceptions of safety within mental health services. These interviews identified a broad range of safety issues; the authors suggest that patient safety in mental health services could be expanded to include harm caused trying to access services and self-harm provoked by contact with, or rejection from, services.
Martin GP, Chew S, Dixon-Woods M. Health (London). 2021;25:757-774.
After findings of gross negligence, the National Health Service (NHS) introduced ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardians’ to lead safety culture change with the ultimate goal that speaking up about safety issues becomes the norm. The authors used semi-structured interviews with 51 individuals (e.g., Guardians, clinicians, policymakers/regulators, etc.) to describe the rollout of the Guardians. These interviews revealed that the role of the Guardians is rich in potential but that the initial narrow role of addressing only quality and safety concerns was not consistent with the myriad of complex issues brought to them and may indicate the need to expand the role definition.
Archer S, Thibaut BI, Dewa LH, et al. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2019;27:211-223.
Researchers conducted focus groups in this qualitative study of staff in mental healthcare settings and assessed the barriers and facilitators to incident reporting. The authors identified unique challenges to incident reporting in mental health, including the incidence of violence and aggressive behavior. Participants often underreported violent or aggressive events because they attributed the behavior to the patient’s diagnosis, and cited dissatisfaction with how reported incidents were handled by police.
Mokkenstorm JK, Kerkhof AJFM, Smit JH, et al. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2018;48:745-754.
Suicide in all settings is considered a sentinel event. This commentary describes an aspirational suicide eradication program. The approach combines direct identification of suicidal behavior and treatment, system-focused process improvements, and organizational safety culture as interdependent strategies for eliminating suicide. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed a suicide attempt on an inpatient medical unit.
Vermeulen JM, Doedens P, Cullen SW, et al. Psychiatr Serv. 2018;69:1087-1094.
Prior research has shown that numerous factors may impact patient safety in the inpatient psychiatry setting. In this study involving 4371 patients admitted to 14 inpatient psychiatric units at acute care general hospitals, researchers found that older patients and those with longer length of stay were at increased risk for adverse events and medical errors.
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Care Quality Commission; December 2018.
The term never events was originally coined to describe rare, devastating, and preventable events. This report provides an analysis of National Health Service (NHS) efforts to optimize use of alerts, guidance, and recommendations to prevent never events. The investigation found that NHS staff feel unsupported by training, challenged by complex processes of care to practice safely, and uncertainty regarding improvement roles at the system level.
Cleary M, Lees D, Lopez V. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2018;39:980-982.
Effective apology behaviors improve opportunities for error resolution for clinicians, patients, and families. This commentary highlights the importance of expressing empathy, considering legal implications, and demonstrating individual, leadership, and organizational support of open disclosure.
Williams SC, Schmaltz SP, Castro GM, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018;44:643-650.
The Joint Commission identifies inpatient suicide as a sentinel event. Little is known about the epidemiology of hospital suicides other than that they are rare and occur mostly in psychiatry wards. Researchers examined two national databases to develop the first data-driven appraisal of hospital suicide rates. Nationally, between 49 and 65 hospital suicides occur each year. Nearly 75% happen during psychiatric treatment, and the most common means of death is hanging. This hospital suicide rate is an order of magnitude lower than prior estimates. An accompanying editorial raises concerns about the much larger epidemic of suicide immediately after psychiatric hospital discharge. A prior WebM&M commentary highlighted additional strategies to reduce hospital suicide risk.
Kroll DS, Shellman AD, Gitlin DF. J Patient Saf. 2018;14:e51-e55.
Incident reporting systems are widely implemented in health care systems, but they are often underutilized by clinicians. This institution implemented a psychiatry-specific incident reporting tool. Researchers found that physicians submitted more incident reports but there was no significant change in how many serious harm events were identified. An Annual Perspective described the challenges in measuring and responding to serious patient harm.
Reilly CA, Cullen SW, Watts B, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019;45:63-69.
A number of studies have shown that incident reporting systems only capture a small proportion of suspected adverse events in hospitals. Conducted in inpatient psychiatric units at Veterans Affairs hospitals, the study found that only a minority of adverse events identified through chart review were voluntarily reported by clinicians. A recent commentary discussed the inherent limitations of incident reporting systems and suggested ways to optimize their utility.
True G, Frasso R, Cullen SW, et al. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2017;48:65-71.
This individual interview study of staff at Veterans Health Administration inpatient psychiatry units identified several factors that affect patient safety in this setting, including safety culture, leadership engagement, and patient-centeredness. The authors advocate for a multistakeholder approach that engages frontline staff and leadership in order to improve patient safety for inpatient psychiatric care.
Riblet N, Shiner B, Watts B, et al. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2017;205:436-442.
This review of root cause analysis reports about suicide within 7 days of discharge from inpatient mental health facilities determined that most cases of suicide occurred prior to scheduled outpatient postdischarge follow-up. Many patients who went on to die by suicide left against medical advice but did not meet criteria to be held against their wishes, highlighting the conflict between safety and patient autonomy.
Patel R, Chesney E, Cullen AE, et al. Br J Psychiatry. 2016;209:29-34.
Multiple studies have documented that patients with various conditions admitted over the weekend have worse outcomes than those admitted on a weekday. This large retrospective study did not find any difference in inpatient mortality for patients admitted to a psychiatric ward on the weekend. However, these patients had shorter admissions and were more likely to be readmitted, and the authors felt that these findings were most likely attributable to inherent differences in the types of psychiatric patients admitted on weekends.