This report summarizes patient safety improvement work in the state of Pennsylvania and reviews the 2021 activities of the Patient Safety Authority, including the Agency's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, video programs, liaison efforts, publication programs, and the launch of a new learning management system.
O’Brien N, Shaw A, Flott K, et al. J Glob Health. 2022;12:04018.
Improving patient safety is a global goal. This literature review explored patient safety interventions focused on people living in fragile, conflict-affected, and vulnerable settings. Studies were generally from lower and lower-middle income countries and focused primarily on strengthening infection prevention and control; however, there is a call for more attention on providing patient safety training to healthcare workers, introducing risk management tools, and reducing preventable harm during care delivery.
Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
Dunbar NM, Delaney M, Murphy MF, et al. Transfusion (Paris). 2021;61:2601-2610.
Transfusion errors can have serious consequences. This study compared wrong blood in tube (WBIT) errors in 9 countries across three settings: emergency department, inpatient, and outpatient. Results show emergency department WBIT errors were significantly higher in emergency departments, and that electronic positive patient identification (ePPID) significantly reduced WBIT errors in the emergency department, but not in inpatient or outpatient wards.
Kern-Goldberger AR, Kneifati-Hayek J, Fernandes Y, et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2021;138:229-235.
Patient misidentification errors can result in serious patient harm. The authors reviewed over 1.3 million electronic orders for inpatients at one New York hospital between 2016 and 2018 and found that wrong-patient order errors occurred more frequently on obstetric units than medical-surgical units. Medication errors were the largest source of order errors and commonly involved antibiotics and opioid and non-opioid analgesics.
Olivarius‐McAllister J, Pandit M, Sykes A, et al. Anaesthesia. 2021;76:1616-1624.
UK Regulators measure never events to assess hospital safety culture and dictate reimbursement. The authors suggest that regulators focus on reducing the national never event rate through shared learning and an integrated system-wide approach, rather than concentrating on underperforming, outlier hospitals where factors such as safety culture maybe contributing to increased rates of never events.
Omar I, Graham Y, Singhal R, et al. World J Surg. 2021;45:697-704.
Never events can result in serious patient harm and indicate serious underlying organizational safety problems. This study analyzed never events occurring between 2012 and 2020 in the National Health Services and categorized 51 common never events into four categories – wrong site surgery (40% of events); retained foreign objects post-procedure (28%); wrong implant/prosthesis (13%); and non-surgical/infrequent never events (19%). Awareness of these themes may support focused efforts to reduce their incidence and development of specific local safety standards.
Omar I, Singhal R, Wilson M, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2021;33:mzab045.
Never events, a significant type of adverse event, should never occur in healthcare. This study analyzed 797 surgical never events that occurred from April 2012 to February 2020 in the National Health Service (NHS) England and categorized them into three main categories: wrong-site surgery (53.58%), retained items post-procedure (44.54%), and wrong implant/prosthesis (1.88%). In total 56 common general surgery never events have been found. Being aware of the common themes may help providers to develop more effective strategies to prevent these adverse events.
A 74-year-old male with a history of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure with an EF of 45%, stage I chronic kidney disease and gout presented for a total hip replacement.
ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute Care Edition. April 25, 2019.
Newborns assigned temporary names are at increased risk for patient misidentification and wrong-patient errors. This newsletter article reports on the role of electronic health records in newborn misidentification and the unintended consequences associated with a Joint Commission set of recommendations to reduce risk.
Rebello E, Kee S, Kowalski A, et al. Health Informatics J. 2016;22:1055-1062.
This electronic audit study examined the incidence of opening and charting in the wrong patient record in the perioperative period. Investigators observed that this error declined over time. They attribute this improvement to time-out procedures and barcoding, both of which facilitate patient identification.
Boston, MA: Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction; 2016.
Cataract surgery, one of the most common procedures in the United States, is vulnerable to wrong-site errors. This consensus report reviews the types of errors associated with cataract surgery and discusses evidence-based practices to reduce risks.
This quality improvement study found that adherence to patient safety measures while providing radiation therapy—such as verifying patient identification—increased when work processes were standardized. This finding echoes prior work in applying human factors principles to health care.
Improper insulin pen use is a persistent problem. This newsletter article reveals the lessons learned from one hospital that implemented best practices including robust education, bar-code scanning, bedside electronic medication administration records, and alerts to prevent incorrect administration but continued to experience errors related to insulin pen use.
McCoy AB, Wright A, Kahn MG, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2013;22:219-24.
The presence of duplicate records (a single patient having multiple medical records within the same system) is a risk factor for preventable errors. This study at five academic medical centers found that duplicate records were common, with the incidence varying widely across centers.
Galanter W, Falck S, Burns M, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013;20:477-81.
Wrong-patient errors have long been a risk in hospitals. In one seminal case, a patient underwent an invasive procedure intended for another patient with a similar name. In the era of electronic medical records, errors such as entering notes or ordering medications for the wrong patient may occur as a consequence of multitasking. This AHRQ-funded study evaluated the effectiveness of an alert system, which required entry of an appropriate clinical diagnosis, at preventing wrong-patient medication errors in a computerized provider order entry system. Although the system did correctly identify and prevent incorrect prescriptions, 4000 alerts were required to prevent a single error. Other studies have successfully used forcing functions, or simply placing the patient's photograph on the order screen, to prevent wrong-patient errors.
Mehtsun WT, Ibrahim AM, Diener-West M, et al. Surgery. 2013;153:465-472.
More than a decade ago, stories of wrong site surgeries and retained surgical objects galvanized the patient safety movement. Despite public uproar and attention focused on these never events, such incidents continue to occur at alarming rates. This study found that surgeons make these mistakes more than 4000 times per year in the United States. Related malpractice payments have amounted to more than $1.3 billion over the last 20 years. Although this financial burden is substantial, it may pale in comparison to the degree of patient harm resulting from these preventable errors. An incident of wrong-site surgery is discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
Adelman JS, Kalkut GE, Schechter CB, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013;20:305-310.
Patient misidentification errors—such as laboratory results or notes being entered into the wrong patient chart—have been shown to occur in the emergency department and inpatient settings. Misidentification errors have the potential for serious patient harm when combined with computerized provider order entry, as patients could receive unintended medications. In this study, investigators at an academic medical center first developed a measurement tool within their electronic medical record to identify wrong-patient orders (and found that they were surprisingly common), then conducted a randomized trial investigating the efficacy of two different strategies to prevent wrong-patient orders. A forcing function that mandated re-entry of patient identifiers before allowing order entry resulted in significant reduction in wrong-patient orders. In another study, simply placing the patient's photograph on the order entry screen also appeared to reduce wrong-patient orders.
Snydman LK, Harubin B, Kumar S, et al. Am J Med Qual. 2012;27:147-53.
This article uses data from a large database of voluntarily reported errors to characterize errors in laboratory medicine. Most errors occurred at the preanalytic phase (before the specimen arrived in the laboratory), with many errors arising from misidentification of specimens. The vast majority of the more than 30,000 errors analyzed did not lead to patient harm. A pathology misidentification error that resulted in disclosure of an incorrect diagnosis to a patient is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
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