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Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; June 2022.

Handoffs between prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) providers and hospital emergency departments (EDs) can be suboptimal, which increases patient harm potential. This interim report examines National Health Service discharge delays. It suggests a systemic approach is needed to address flow and capacity factors that contribute to ineffective and unsafe interfacility discharge and transfer.
Tate K, McLane P, Reid C, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2022;11:e001639.
Older adults are vulnerable to patient safety events during care transitions. The Older Persons’ Transitions in Care (OPTIC) study prospectively tracked long-term care residents’ transitions and applied the IOM’s quality of care domains to develop 49 measures for quality of care for the transition process (e.g., safety, timeliness, efficiency, effectiveness, and patient-centered care) between long-term care and emergency department settings.

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.

Saleem J, Sarma D, Wright H, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:152-160.
Hospitals employ a variety of strategies to prevent inpatient falls. Based on data from incident reports, this study used process mapping to identify opportunities to improve timely diagnosis of serious injury resulting from inpatient falls. Researchers found that multiple interventions (e.g., education, changes in the transport process) with small individual effects resulted in a substantial cumulative positive impact on delays in the diagnosis of serious harm resulting from a fall.
Murata M, Nakagawa N, Kawasaki T, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2022;52:13-19.
Transporting critically ill patients within a hospital (e.g., to radiology for diagnostic procedures) is necessary but also poses safety threats. The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all types of adverse events, critical or life-threatening adverse events, and death occurring during intra-hospital transport. Results indicate that adverse events can occur in intra-hospital transport, and that frequency of critical adverse events and death are low.
Ali A, Miller MR, Cameron S, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2022;38:207-212.
Interhospital transfer of critical care patients presents patient safety risks. This retrospective study compared adverse event rates between pediatric patient transport both with, and without, parent or family presence. Adverse event rates were not significantly impacted by parental presence.
DiSilvio B, Virani A, Patel S, et al. Crit Care Nurs Q. 2020;43:413-427.
This article discusses several aspects essential to surge planning and preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic, including surge planning, limiting health care worker exposure, logistics for medication delivery, delivering emergent care in patients with COVID-19, and safe practices for patient transport.
To transfer a man with possible sepsis to a hospital with subspecialty and critical care, a physician was unaware of a formal protocol and called a colleague at the academic medical center. The colleague secured a bed, and the patient was sent over. However, neither clinical data nor the details of the patient's current condition were transmitted to the hospital's transfer center, and the receiving physician booked a general ward bed rather than an ICU bed. When the patient arrived, his mentation was altered and breathing was rapid.
Mirarchi FL, Cammarata C, Zerkle SW, et al. J Patient Saf. 2015;11:9-17.
This survey of emergency department physicians found that significant confusion in understanding of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) documents exists. The authors suggest that additional research and training are required to protect patients' decisions. A related study revealed variation in interpretations of POLST orders by prehospital emergency responders. A previous AHRQ WebM&M commentary discusses how confusion in resuscitation status can result in a patient receiving unwanted care.

J Health Serv Res Policy. 2015;20(suppl 1):S1-S60.

Articles in this special supplement explore research commissioned by National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom to address four patient safety research gaps: how organizational culture and context influence evaluations of interventions, organizational boundaries that affect handovers and other aspects of care, the role of the patient in safety improvement, and the economic costs and benefits of safety interventions.
Sujan MA, Chessum P, Rudd M, et al. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2015;20:17-25.
Patient handoffs are a major challenge for patient safety, especially when patients move between different units or organizations. Analysis of 270 handoffs between ambulances to emergency departments (EDs) and EDs to inpatient units uncovered many tensions and themes, such as how competing patient flow priorities can impact the quality of handoffs.
Balka E, Tolar M, Coates S, et al. Int J Med Inform. 2013;82:e345-57.
This ethnographic case study explored patient handoffs across different situations, including pre-hospital and primary care settings. These analyses emphasize numerous contextual issues that need be considered when creating computerized systems to support handoffs.
Dawson S, King L, Grantham H. Emerg Med Australas. 2015;25:393-405.
Handoffs between care settings can lead to adverse events. This literature review analyzed 17 studies of handoffs between prehospital first responders and emergency department (ED) staff. Safety gaps detected included communication barriers, lack of a structured communication tool, and unclear identification of the receiving clinical staff. The authors suggest that a structured handoff tool could improve first responder–ED handoffs. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed communication failures between providers and highlighted a need for standard handoff protocols.
Irving, TX: American College of Emergency Physicians; 2014.
This guidance recognizes risks associated with emergency medical services and provides recommendations to support the implementation of a safety culture in this setting.
Ott LK, Pinsky MR, Hoffman LA, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2012;21:509-18.
This cohort study characterizes the types of emergencies that necessitated a medical emergency team evaluation of an inpatient in the radiology department. A case of an ultimately fatal adverse event that occurred while a patient was being transported from an inpatient unit to radiology is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.