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Walker D, Moloney C, SueSee B, et al. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2022;Epub Jun 27.
Safe medication management practices are critical to providing safe care in all healthcare settings. While there are studies reporting a variety of prehospital adverse events (e.g., respiratory and airway events, communication, etc.), there have been few studies of medication errors that occur in prehospital settings. This mixed methods systematic review of 56 studies and case reports identifies seven major themes such as organizational factors, equipment/medications, environmental factors, procedure-related factors, communication, patient-related factors, and cognitive factors as contributing to safe medication management.

This WebM&M describes two incidences of the incorrect patient being transported from the Emergency Department (ED) to other parts of the hospital for tests or procedures. In one case, the wrong patient was identified before undergoing an unnecessary procedure; in the second case, the wrong patient received an unnecessary chest x-ray. The commentary highlights the consequences of patient transport errors and strategies to enhance the safety of patient transport and prevent transport-related errors.

Jakonen A, Mänty M, Nordquist H. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:572-580.
Checklists have been implemented in a variety of specialties and settings to improve safe patient care. In this study, researchers developed and pilot-tested safety checklists for emergency response driving (ERD) and patient transport in Finland. Semi-structured interviews with paramedics and ERD drivers indicated that the safety checklists improved perceived safety.
Fuller G, Pandor A, Essat M, et al. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2021;90:403-412.
Prehospital triage tools are used to differentiate between patients who need emergency care at a major trauma center (MTC) and those that may receive adequate care at a non-MTC.  Accurate triage tools are necessary to ensure that patients are not over- or undertriaged. This review found high variability in sensitivity and specificity across geriatric triage tools indicating some patients may not be receiving the specialized trauma care they need. The authors highlight several future research targets including development of relevant reference standards and balancing the risk between over- and undertriage.
Dr. Brice is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina. She also serves as the Program Director for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellowship and was past-president of the National Association of EMS Physicians. We spoke with her about her experience working in emergency medical systems and safety concerns particular to this field.
Erich J.
Air transport service combines risks associated with both aviation and prehospital trauma care. This article discusses the role of human factors in this fast-paced care environment. The author encourages efforts to reduce risks through policy change, purchasing the latest safety equipment, and empowering staff to decline calls when conditions are unsafe.
Misasi P, Keebler JR. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2019;10:2042098618821916.
This pre–post study reports a decline in medication error rates in prehospital emergency services following implementation of a human factors engineering approach. The providers implemented a team-based cross-check process using standardized communication for high-risk medications and found a significant reduction in medication errors.
Stevens AD, Hernandez C, Jones S, et al. Resuscitation. 2015;96:85-91.
This randomized simulation study compared paramedics' ability to correctly dose medications for pediatric patients with color-coded prefilled syringes versus traditional medication kits. Researchers found that color-coded prefilled syringes improved dose accuracy and decreased time to medication delivery, demonstrating how a system intervention can enhance clinical performance.
Vilensky D, MacDonald RD. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2011;15:39-43.
This study analyzed communication errors during call bookings for air medical transport and found both human and process-driven root causes. Examples of major errors identified were commissions of allergies to medications and omissions of intubations from records.
Interrupted during a telephone handoff, an ED physician, despite limited information, must treat a patient in respiratory arrest. The patient is stabilized and transferred to the ICU with a presumed diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia and septic shock. Later, ICU physicians obtain further history that leads to the correct diagnosis: pulmonary embolism.