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MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; August 20, 2021.
This announcement seeks to raise awareness of the potential risks associated with the use of robotic-assisted surgical devices in mastectomies or cancer-related care. Recommendations for patients who may seek to have robotically assisted surgery include asking about their surgeon's experience with these procedures and discussing benefits, risks, and alternatives regarding available treatment options with their health care provider. Suggestions for health care providers include completing specialized training on procedures they perform. A WebM&M commentary described the challenges and benefits associated with robotic surgery.
Ginestra JC, Atkins JH, Mikkelsen ME, et al. NEJM Catalyst. 2020;2.
Health systems are rapidly adjusting and adapting processes to successfully respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Pennsylvania Health System developed the I-READI (integration, root cause analysis, evidence review, adaptation, dissemination, and implementation) conceptual framework to assist hospitals in preparing for and responding to patient safety challenges during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The I-READI approach can streamline communication, enrich collaboration, and coordinate rapid change through the use of daily safety huddles, root cause analysis, and technology (e.g., ICU telemedicine and real-time ICU dashboards).

A 56-year-old female received a digital tourniquet around the base of her left big toe during an ablation and excision of a deformed in-grown toenail.

A 55-year old man was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia requiring intravenous antibiotics. After three intravenous lines infiltrated, the attending physician on call gave a verbal order to have a percutaneous intravenous central venous catheter placed by interventional radiology the next morning. However, the nurse on duty incorrectly entered an order for a tunneled dialysis catheter, and the radiologist then inserted the wrong type of catheter. The commentary explores safety issues with verbal orders and interventional radiology procedures.
A 54-year old women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was admitted for chronic respiratory failure. Due to severe hypoxemia, she was intubated, mechanically ventilated and required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). During the hospitalization, she developed clotting problems, which necessitated transfer to the operating room to change one of the ECMO components. On the way back to the intensive care unit, a piece of equipment became snagged on the elevator door and the system alarmed.
Kukielka E, Gipson KR, Jones R. Patient Saf. 2019;1(2):36–44.
Reliable telemetry monitoring reduces the potential for rare yet catastrophic patient harm. Drawing from 4 years of data submitted to the Patient Safety Authority reporting system, this article documents factors involved in errors related to the use of telemetry which include battery problems, improper alarm use and communication issues. It highlights training and development of procedures and protocols that align with the practice environment as strategies for improvement.
Steelman VM, Thenuwara K, Shaw C, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2019;45:81-90.
This retrospective review examines incidents of retained guidewires reported to The Joint Commission. Researchers identified numerous contributing factors to these events, most frequently relating to human factors, leadership, and communication. The authors conclude that multicomponent strategies to prevent incidents involving retained foreign objects are needed.
A woman with multiple myeloma required placement of a central venous catheter for apheresis. The outpatient oncologist intended to order a nontunneled catheter via computerized provider order entry but accidentally ordered a tunneled catheter. The interventional radiologist thought the order was unusual but didn't contact the oncologist. A tunneled catheter was placed without complications. When the patient presented for apheresis, providers recognized the wrong catheter had been placed, and the patient underwent an additional procedure.
MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; November 14, 2018.
This safety announcement raises awareness of pump failures, dosing errors, and other potential safety issues associated with implanted pumps. Recommendations to enhance safety include review of medication labeling to select appropriate medicines and concentrations as well as open discussions with patients about risks associated with pump and medication options.
Admitted to the hospital with an ulcer on his right foot, a man with diabetes and stage IV chronic kidney disease had an MRI concerning for osteomyelitis, and a bone biopsy showed chronic inflammation with cultures positive for methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus. To administer outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy, interventional radiology attempted to place a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) in the right brachial vein multiple times but failed. They then placed it in the left brachial vein.
A young adult with a progressive neurological disorder presented to an emergency department from a nursing home with a dislodged GJ tube. As a workaround to maintain patency when the GJ tube was dislodged, nursing home staff had inserted a Foley catheter into the ostomy, inflated the Foley bulb in the stomach, and tied the distal portion of the catheter in a loose knot. When the patient went to interventional radiology for new GJ tube placement, clinicians found no Foley but inserted a new GJ tube.
Liberatore K. PA-PSRS Patient Saf Advis. 2018 March;15.
Latex products are widely available in hospitals and represent a persistent threat to patients with latex allergies. Drawing from 616 reported latex-related events, this investigation found that more than half of the incidents were associated with indwelling urinary catheter use. Tracking staff awareness of latex allergies, purchasing latex-safe alternatives, and improving handoff documentation of patient allergies are possible risk reduction strategies. A WebM&M commentary discussed allergy documentation in patient health records.
Hospitalized with sepsis secondary to an infected IV line through which she was receiving treprostnil (a high-alert medication used to treat pulmonary hypertension), a woman was transferred to interventional radiology for placement of a new permanent catheter once the infection cleared. Sign-off between departments included a warning not to flush the line since it would lead to a dangerous overdose. However, while attempting to identify an infusion pump alarm, a radiology technician accidentally flushed the line, which led to a near code situation.
A newborn with elevated total serum bilirubin (TSB) due to hemolytic disease was placed on a mattress with embedded phototherapy lights for treatment, but the TSB continued to climb. The patient was transferred to the neonatal ICU for an exchange transfusion. The neonatologist requested testing of the phototherapy lights, and their irradiance level was found to be well below the recommended level. The lights were replaced, the patient's TSB level began to drop, and the exchange transfusion was aborted.
Hall DK, Zimbro KS, Maduro RS, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2018;33:143-148.
Although physical restraints may be used to protect patients in intensive care units from falls and other accidents, inappropriate restraint use can contribute to adverse events. This commentary describes how one hospital implemented a program using education and team communication tactics to reduce opportunities for patient harm associated with restraint use.
Admitted to the ICU with septic shock, a man with a transplanted kidney developed hypotension and required new central venous access. Since providers anticipated using the patient's left internal jugular vein catheter for re-starting hemodialysis (making it unsuitable to use for resuscitation), the ICU team placed the central line in the right femoral vein. However, they failed to recognize that his transplanted kidney was on the right side, which meant that femoral catheter placement on that side was contraindicated.
DeLancey JO, Barnard C, Bilimoria KY. JAMA. 2017;317:1269-1270.
Retained surgical items are considered a sentinel event. Discussing an incident involving the unintended retention of a catheter tip in a patient, this commentary explains why adequate supervision, communication, and clearly articulated responsibilities are important to enhance patient safety.
MedWatch Safety Alert. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; January 11, 2017.
Hazards in the magnetic resonance imaging environment can result in patient harm. This announcement raises awareness of inaccuracies and disruptions that may affect the safety of patients with implantable infusion devices who undergo an MRI exam. The statement recommends that patients inform their care team and carry an implant card with information about the implanted device to prevent these problems.
Accidental administration of irrigation solutions are a wrong-route error that can result in harm. This newsletter article reviews factors that contribute to these incidents in the operating room, such as unlabeled solutions, look-alike labeling, and line connection issues. Recommendations to reduce risks include communicating during transitions, safe storage, and immediate labeling.