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Post-acute transitions – which involve patients being discharged from the hospital to home-based or community care environments – are associated with patient safety risks, often due to poor communication and fragmented care. This primer outlines the main types of home-based care services and formal home-based care programs and how these services can increase patient safety and improve health outcomes.

El Abd A, Schwab C, Clementz A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:230-236.
Older adults are at high risk for 30-day unplanned hospital readmission. This study identified patient-level risk factors among patients 75 years or older who were initially hospitalized for fall-related injuries. Risk factors included being a male, abnormal concentration of C-reactive protein, and anemia. Discharge programs targeting these patients could reduce 30-day unplanned readmissions.
Residents living in nursing homes or residential care facilities use common dining and activity spaces and may share rooms, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19 infection. This document describes key patient safety challenges facing older adults living in these settings, who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus, and identifies federal guidelines and resources related to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation in long-term care. As of April 13, 2020, the Associated
Cam H, Kempen TGH, Eriksson H, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2021;21:618.
Poor communication between hospital and primary care providers can lead to adverse events, such as hospital readmission. In this study of older adults who required medication-related follow-up with their primary care provider, the discharging provider only sent an adequate request for 60% of patients. Of those patients that did not have an adequate request, 14% had a related hospital revisit within 6 months.
Malevanchik L, Wheeler M, Gagliardi K, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:775-782.
Communication in healthcare is essential but can be complicated, particularly when there are language barriers between providers and patients. This study evaluated a hospital-wide care transitions program, with a goal of universal contact with discharged patients to identify and address care transition problems. Researchers found that the program reached most patients regardless of English proficiency, but that patients with limited English proficiency experienced more post-discharge issues, such as difficulty understanding discharge instructions, medication concerns and follow-up questions, and new or worsening symptoms.
Becker C, Zumbrunn S, Beck K, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e2119346.
Discharge from the hospital represents a vulnerable time for patients. This systematic review assessed the impact of discharge communication on hospital readmissions, adherence to treatment regimen, patient satisfaction, mortality, and emergency department visits 30 days after hospital discharge. Findings suggest that improved communication at discharge reduced 30-day hospital readmissions and increased adherence to treatment regimen.
Morrison AK, Gibson C, Higgins C, et al. Pediatr Qual Saf. 2021;6:e425.
Limited health literacy can lead to patients or caregivers misunderstanding care instructions. Researchers examined safety events occurring at one children’s hospital over a nine-month period and found that health literacy-related events accounted for 4% of all safety events. Health literacy-related events generally involved problems with medication (e.g., unclear discharge medication instructions, conflicting instructions), system processes (e.g.., failures to address language barriers), and discharge and transitions (e.g., unclear equipment information, unclear instructions about upcoming tests).
Spencer RA, Singh Punia H. Patient Educ Couns. 2021;104:1681-1703.
Communication failures during transitions of care can threaten safe patient care. Although this systematic review identified several tools to support communication between inpatient providers and patients during transitions from hospital to home, the authors did not identify any existing tools to support the post-discharge period in primary care.

The Patient Safe-D(ischarge) program used standardized tools to educate patients about their discharge needs, test understanding of those needs, and improve medication reconciliation at admission and discharge. A quasi-randomized controlled trial of the program found that it significantly increased patients' understanding and knowledge of their diagnoses, treatment, and required follow-up care.

Manias E, Bucknall T, Woodward-Kron R, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18:3925.
Interprofessional communication is critical to safe medication management during transitions of care. Researchers conducted this ethnographic study to explore inter- and intra-professional communications during older adults’ transitions of care. Communication was influenced by the transferring setting, receiving setting, and ‘real-time’ communication. Lack of, or poor, communication impacted medication safety; researchers recommend more proactive communication and involvement of the pharmacist.
Schnipper JL, Reyes Nieva H, Mallouk M, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:278-286.
Medication reconciliation aims to prevent adverse events during transitions of care, but implementing effective interventions supporting medication reconciliation has proven challenging. Building upon lessons learned in the MARQUIS1 study, this pragmatic quality improvement study (MARQUIS2) implemented a refined toolkit including system-level and patient-level interventions as well as physician mentors providing remote coaching and in-person site visits. Across 17 hospital sites, the intervention was associated with a significant decrease in unintentional mediation discrepancies over time.
Hannum SM, Abebe E, Xiao Y, et al. Appl Ergon. 2020;91:103299.
Discharge can be a vulnerable time for patients, particularly older adults taking multiple medications. Through interviews with clinicians from 10 professional roles, researchers identified three key strategies to promote safe medication management at hospital discharge: (1) streamlining medication reconciliation across care settings, (2) building patient capacity and engagement, and (3) redesigning the transitional process. Aligning clinician and patient care transition goals using these three strategies may better prepare patients to safely self-manage their medications at home.   
Kurteva S, Habib B, Moraga T, et al. Value Health. 2021;24:147-157.
Harms related to prescription opioid use are an ongoing patient safety challenge. Based on data from one hospital between 2014 and 2016, this cohort study found that nearly 50% of hospitalized patients were discharged with an opioid prescription, and 80% of those prescriptions were among patients discharged from a surgical unit. Opioid-related medication errors were more common in handwritten discharge prescriptions compared to electronic prescriptions; electronic prescriptions were associated with a 69% lower risk of opioid-related medication errors.
Field TS, Fouayzi H, Crawford S, et al. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021;22:2196-2200.
Transitioning from hospital to nursing home (NH) can be a vulnerable time for patients. This study looked for potential associations between adverse events (AE) for NH residents following hospital discharge and NH facility characteristics (e.g., 5-star quality rating, ownership, bed size). Researchers found few associations with individual quality indicators and no association between the 5-star quality rating or composite quality score. Future research to reduce AEs during transition from hospital to NH should look beyond currently available quality measures.
Massa S, Wu J, Wang C, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:242-249.
The objective of this mixed methods study was to characterize training, practices, and preferences in interprofessional handoffs from the operating room to the intensive care unit (OR-to-ICU). Anesthesia residents, registered nurses, and advanced practice providers indicated that they had not received enough preparation for OR-to-ICU handoffs in their clinical education or on-the-job training. Clinicians from all professions noted a high value of interprofessional education in OR-to-ICU handoffs, especially during early degree programs would be beneficial.
van Heesch G, Frenkel J, Kollen W, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2020;47:234-241.
Poor handoff communication can threaten patient safety. In this study set in the Netherlands, pediatric residents were asked to develop a contingency plan for patients received during handoffs and asked to recall information from that handoff five hours later. Results indicate that engaging in deliberate cognitive processing during handoffs resulted in better understanding of patients’ problems, which could contribute to improved patient safety.

Shannon EM, Zheng J, Orav EJ, et al. JAMA Network Open. 2021:4(3);e213474.

This cross-sectional study examined whether racial/ethnic disparities in interhospital transfers (IHT) for common medical diagnoses such as heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and sepsis, impact mortality outcomes. The authors analyzed 899,557 patients and reported that Black patients had lower odds of IHT compared to White patients, while Hispanic patient had higher odds of IHT compared with White patients. The authors propose several possible explanations including differences in Black and Hispanic willingness to transfer, impact of insurance status and reimbursement rates, coding inaccuracies, and other complex dynamics for their findings.
Volpi E, Giannelli A, Toccafondi G, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e143-e148.
Medication errors are a common and significant causes of patient harm. This retrospective study examined regional prescription registry (RPR) data at a single Italian hospital at 4 comparison points, pre-admission, admission, hospitalization, and post-discharge. Researchers identified 4,363 discrepancies among 14,573 prescriptions originating from 298 patients with a mean age of 71.2 years. Approximately one third of the discrepancies (1,310) were classified as unintentional and the majority (62.1%) of those were found when comparing the prescriptions during the transition from  hospital discharge and the 9-month follow up. The study points to the need for enhanced communication between hospitalists and primary care providers at the hospital-home interface.
Uong A, Philips K, Hametz P, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;147:e20200031.
Breakdowns in communication between clinicians and patients and their caregivers are common and can lead to adverse events. This article describes the development of the SAFER Care framework for written and verbal discharge counseling in pediatric units. The SAFER mnemonic reminds clinicians delivering discharge counseling to discuss safe return to school/daycare, activity restrictions, follow-up plans expected symptoms after discharge, when to return and seek care for symptoms, and who to contact with questions. Results from caregiver surveys indicate that the SAFER Care framework improved their comprehension of discharge instructions.