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The focus on patient safety in the ambulatory setting was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriately shifting priorities to responding to the pandemic. This piece explores some of the core themes of patient safety in the ambulatory setting, including diagnostic safety and diagnostic errors. Ways to enhance patient safety in the ambulatory care setting and next steps in ambulatory care safety are addressed. 

Burns ML, Saager L, Cassidy RB, et al. JAMA Surg. 2022;Epub Jul 20.
Anesthesiologists often must oversee multiple surgeries. This study evaluated adult patients from 23 US academic and private hospitals who underwent major surgery between 2010, and 2017, to examine anesthesiologist staffing ratios against patient morbidity and mortality. The authors categorized the staffing into four groups based on the number of operations the anesthesiologist was covering. The study found that increased anesthesiologist coverage was associated with greater risk-adjusted morbidity and mortality of surgical patients. Hospitals should consider evaluating anesthesiology staffing to determine potential increased risks.
Watson J, Salisbury C, Whiting PF, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2022;Epub Jun 6.
Failure to communicate blood test results to patients may result in delayed diagnosis or treatment. In this study, UK primary care patients and general practitioners (GPs) were asked about their experiences with the communication of blood test results. Patients and GPs both expected the other to follow up on results and had conflicting experiences with the method of communication (e.g., phone call, text message).
Lou SS, Lew D, Harford DR, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2022;37:2165-2172.
Cross-sectional research has suggested many physicians experience burnout which can negatively impact patient safety. This longitudinal study evaluated the effect of workload (collected via electronic health record audit) on burnout and medication errors (i.e., retract-and-reorder [RAR] events) of internal medicine interns. Higher levels of workload were associated with burnout; there was no statistically significant association between burnout and RAR events.
Alexander R, Waite S, Bruno MA, et al. Radiology. 2022:212631.
To reduce medical errors caused by fatigue, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) adopted duty hour restrictions for ACGME-accredited residency programs; however, other healthcare fields have not yet done so. This review presents the limited existing evidence for regulating duty hours for radiologists and proposes that additional research needs to be completed before implementing restrictions.
Zhang D, Gu D, Rao C, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Jun 1.
Clinician workload has been linked with poor patient outcomes. This retrospective cohort study assessed the outcomes for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) performed as a surgeons’ first versus non-first procedure of the day. Findings suggest that prior workload adversely affected outcomes for patients undergoing CABG surgery, with increases in adverse events, myocardial infarction, and stroke compared to first procedures.
Falk A-C, Nymark C, Göransson KE, et al. Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2022:103276.
Needed nursing care that is delayed, partially completed, or not completed at all is known as missed nursing care (MNC). Researchers surveyed critical care registered nurses during two phases of the COVID-19 pandemic about recent missed nursing care, perceived quality of care, and contributing factors. There were no major changes in the types of, or reasons for, MNC compared to the reference survey completed in fall 2019.
Sun EC, Mello MM, Vaughn MT, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182:720-728.
Physician fatigue can inhibit decision-making and contribute to poor performance. This cross-sectional study examined surgical procedures performed between January 2010 and August 2020 across 20 high-volume hospitals in the United States to determine the association between surgeon fatigue, operating overnight and outcomes for operations performed by the same surgeon the next day. No significant associations were found between overnight surgeries and surgical outcomes for procedures performed the next day.
Weaver MD, Landrigan CP, Sullivan JP, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub May 10.
In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) introduced a 16-hour shift limit for first-year residents. Recent studies found that these duty hour requirements did not yield significant differences in patient outcomes and the ACGME eliminated the shift limit for first-year residents in 2017. To assess the impact of work-hour limits on medical errors, this study prospectively followed two cohorts of resident physicians matched into US residency programs before (2002-2007) and after (2014-2016) the introduction of the work-hour limits. After adjustment for potential confounders, the work-hour limit was associated with decreased risk of resident-reported significant medical errors (32% risk reduction), reported preventable adverse events (34% risk reduction), and reported medical errors resulting in patient death (63% risk reduction).

Ehrenwerth J. UptoDate. May 25, 2022.

Operating room fires are never events that, while rare, still harbor great potential for harm. This review discusses settings prone to surgical fire events, prevention strategies, and care management steps should patients be harmed by an operating room fire.

Järvinen TLN, Rickert J, Lee MJ. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2013-2022.

This quarterly commentary explores a wide range of subjects associated with patient safety, such as the impact of disruptive behavior on teams, the value of apologies, and safety challenges due to COVID-19. Older materials are available online for free.
Lim L, Zimring CM, DuBose JR, et al. HERD. 2022;15:28-41.
Social distancing policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic challenged healthcare system leaders and providers to balance infection prevention strategies and providing collaborative, team-based patient care. In this article, four primary care clinics made changes to the clinic design, operational protocols, and usage of spaces. Negative impacts of these changes, such as fewer opportunities for collaboration, communication, and coordination, were observed.
Meyer AND, Scott TMT, Singh H. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5:e228568.
Delayed communication of abnormal test results can contribute to diagnostic and treatment delays, patient harm, and malpractice claims. The Department of Veterans Affairs specifies abnormal test results be communicated to the patient within seven days if treatment is required, and within 14 days if no treatment is required. In the first full year of the program, 71% of abnormal test results and 80% of normal test results were communicated to the patient within the specified timeframes. Performance varied by facility and type of test.
Essex R, Weldon SM. Nurs Ethics. 2022;Epub Apr 12.
Appropriate staffing levels have been shown to impact patient safety and patient outcomes. This review of literature on healthcare worker strikes explores potential negative impacts, such as compromised patient safety due to decreased staffing levels, and justifications, such as long-term benefits.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2022. ISBN: 9780309686259

Nursing homes face significant patient safety challenges, and these challenges became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This report identifies key issues in the delivery of care for nursing home residents and provides recommendations to strengthen the quality and safety of care delivery, such as improved working conditions, enhanced minimum staffing standards, improving quality measurement, and strengthening emergency preparedness.
Lohmeyer Q, Schiess C, Wendel Garcia PD, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Mar 8.
Tall Man lettering (TML) is a recommended strategy to reduce look-alike or sound-alike medication errors. This simulation study used eye tracking to investigate how of ‘tall man lettering’ impacts medication administration tasks. The researchers found that TML of prelabeled syringes led to a significant decrease in misidentified syringes and improved visual attention.
Bernstein SL, Catchpole K, Kelechi TJ, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:309-318.
Maternal morbidity and mortality continues to be a significant patient safety problem. This mixed-methods study identified system-level factors affecting registered nurses during care of people in labor experiencing clinical deterioration. Task overload, missing or inadequate tools and technology, and a crowded physical environment were all identified as performance obstacles. Improving nurse workload and involving nurses in the redesign of tools and technology could provide a meaningful way to reduce maternal morbidity.
Blijleven V, Hoxha F, Jaspers MWM. J Med Internet Res. 2022;24:e33046.
Electronic health record (EHR) workarounds arise when users bypass safety features to increase efficiency. This scoping review aimed to validate, refine, and enrich the Sociotechnical EHR Workaround Analysis (SEWA) framework. Multidisciplinary teams (e.g. leadership, providers, EHR developers) can now use the refined SEWA framework to identify, analyze and resolve unsafe workarounds, leading to improved quality and efficiency of care.

ECRI. Plymouth Meeting, PA. March 2022.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated patient safety concerns. ECRI presents the top ten patient concerns for 2022, including staffing challenges, human factors in telehealth, and supply chain disruptions.