Dzisko M, Lewandowska A, Wudarska B. Sensors (Basel). 2022;22:3536.
Interruptions and distractions in healthcare settings can inhibit safe care. This simulation study found that medical staff reaction time to changes in vital signs during stressful situations (telephone ringing, ambulance signal) was significantly slower than during non-stressful situations, which may increase the likelihood of medical errors.
Berdot S, Vilfaillot A, Bézie Y, et al. BMC Nurs. 2021;20:153.
Interruptions have been identified as a common source of medication errors. In this study of the effectiveness of a “do not interrupt” vest worn by nurses from medication preparation to administration, neither medication administration error or interruption rates improved.
Boquet A, Cohen T, Diljohn F, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e534-e539.
This study classified flow disruptions affecting the anesthesia team during cardiothoracic surgeries. Disruptions were classified into one of six human factors categories: communication, coordination, equipment issues, interruptions, layout, and usability. Interruptions accounted for nearly 40% of disruptions (e.g., events related to alerts, distractions, searching activity, spilling/dropping, teaching moment).
Mahadevan K, Cowan E, Kalsi N, et al. Open Heart. 2020;7.
Distractions and interruptions are common during delivery of health care. In this evaluation of 194 cardiac catheterization procedures at a single hospital, the authors found that fewer than half of all procedures were completed without interruption or distraction. The authors propose several actions such as the use of a ‘sterile cockpit’ to reduce distractions and improve patient safety.
Challenges associated with electronic health record design and implementation contribute to interruptions, workarounds, and information overload. This book explores topics relevant to workflow disruptions that can degrade safe practice. The chapters review strategies such as data analysis techniques and human factors engineering to generate improvements.
Multitasking can negatively affect cognitive load and diminish safety. This magazine article reports on how multitasking can contribute to surgeon fatigue, burnout, and decreased task completion in the perioperative environment. Checklists to automate workflow and limiting the number of patient charts that can be open at one time can help reduce extraneous cognitive load.
Joseph A, Khoshkenar A, Taaffe KM, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:276-283.
This direct observation study found that minor disruptions in usual workflow can combine to lead to an adverse event. More than half of the observed disruptions were related to the physical layout of the operating room, suggesting that physical design of operating rooms may affect surgical safety.
Keers RN, Plácido M, Bennett K, et al. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0206233.
This interview study used a human factors method, the critical incident technique, to identify underlying factors in medication administration errors in a mental health inpatient facility. The team identified multiple interconnected vulnerabilities, including inadequate staffing, interruptions, and communication challenges. The findings underscore the persistence of widely documented medication safety administration concerns.
Medford-Davis LN, Singh H, Mahajan P. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2018;65:1097-1105.
The busy and complex emergency department environment harbors pressures can that hinder diagnostic safety. This review discusses the characteristics of emergency medicine that contribute to overreliance on heuristics and susceptibility to bias in decision making. The authors highlight the need to better monitor diagnostic error in the emergency department to inform the design of improvement activities. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed diagnostic delay in the emergency department.
Gupta A, Harrod M, Quinn M, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2018;5:151-156.
This direct observation study of hospitalist teams on rounds and conducting follow-up work examined the interaction between systems problems and cognitive errors in diagnosis. Researchers found that information gaps related to electronic health records, challenges with handoffs, and time constraints all contributed to difficulties in diagnostic cognition. The authors suggest considering both systems and cognitive challenges to diagnosis in order to promote safety.
This newsletter article reviews common problems related to patient identification and recommends strategies to ensure verification actions are a part of daily practice. Highlighted suggestions focus on system-level approaches that reduce the potential for incorrect patient data to be entered and proliferate, such as use of frontline confirmation processes and duplicate record monitoring. A WebM&M commentary discussed an incident involving a wrong-patient order in an electronic record system.
Alarm fatigue can affect clinician performance and well-being. This commentary examines the problem of alarm fatigue, factors that contribute to nuisance alarms, and successful reduction strategies such as bundled approaches that include computer analytic techniques and human factors engineering. A WebM&M commentary discussed harm that can result from alarm fatigue.
Poor design of health information technology can lead to miscommunication, burnout, and inappropriate documentation. This review of the literature identified three practice deviations associated with health IT, including workflow disruption, inappropriate use of text fields, and use of handwritten paper or whiteboard notes instead of health IT. The author recommends improvements focused on electronic health record display to enhance communication.
A clinical team decided to use a radial artery approach for cardiac catheterization in a woman with morbid obesity. It took multiple attempts to access her radial artery. After catheter insertion, she experienced pain and pressure in her arm and chest. Review of the angiogram demonstrated the presence of an air embolism in the left coronary artery, introduced during the catheter insertion. Due to the difficulty of the procedure, the technician had failed to hold the syringe at the proper angle and introduced an air bubble into the patient's vessel.
A woman developed sudden nausea and abdominal distension after undergoing inferior mesenteric artery stenting. The overnight intern forgot to follow up on her abdominal radiograph, which resulted in a critical delay in diagnosing acute mesenteric artery dissection and bowel infarction.
A 2-month-old boy brought in for a well-child visit was ordered the appropriate vaccinations, which included a combination vaccine for DTaP, Hib, and IPV. After administering the shots to the patient, the nurse realized she had given the DTaP vaccination alone, instead of the combination vaccine. Thus, the infant had to receive two additional injections.
Westbrook JI, Li L, Hooper TD, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:734-742.
This randomized controlled trial had nurses on four hospital wards wear "do not interrupt" vests during medication administration. The rate of interruptions the intervention nurses experienced was compared to the rate in four control wards that did not have nurses wear vests. Although the intervention reduced non–medication-related interruptions, nurses reported that the vests were time consuming and uncomfortable; less than half would support continuing the intervention. This study demonstrates the need to design and test sustainable interventions to improve patient safety.
Allan SH, Doyle PA, Sapirstein A, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2017;43:62-70.
Reducing the number of alarms can help alleviate alarm fatigue and the associated patient safety hazards. In this study, researchers successfully implemented a number of interventions which led to a 61% decrease in average alarms per monitored bed in a cardiovascular surgical intensive care unit and a reduction in cardiorespiratory events.
Skaugset M, Farrell S, Carney M, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2016;68:189-95.
Interruptions and task-switching are common contributors to complexity in emergency care. Exploring behaviors associated with multitasking in various disciplines, including human factors engineering, cognition science, and business, this review outlines a framework for enhancing understanding of multitasking, such as whether it can be performed successfully and types of actions that can be combined safely.
Schwappach DLB, Pfeiffer Y, Taxis K. BMJ Open. 2016;6.
Chemotherapy medications can cause severe patient harm if incorrectly dosed or administered. This cross-sectional survey of oncology nurses revealed that most chemotherapy double-checking is conducted jointly rather than independently. Of note, many nurses reported being interrupted to engage in a double-check.
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