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St Paul, MN: Minnesota Department of Health.
The National Quality Forum has defined 29 never events—patient safety problems that should never occur, such as wrong-site surgery and patient falls. Since 2003, Minnesota hospitals have been required to report such incidents. The 2021 report summarizes information about 508 adverse events that were reported, representing a significant increase in the year covered. Earlier reports document a fairly consistent count of adverse events. The rise reflected here is likely due to demands on staffing and care processes associated with COVID-19. Pressure ulcers and fall-related injuries were the most common incidents documented. Reports from previous years are available.

A psychologically safe environment for healthcare teams is desirable for optimal team performance, team member well-being, and favorable patient safety outcomes. This piece explores facilitators of and barriers to psychological safety across healthcare settings. Future research directions examining psychological safety in healthcare are discussed.

Waddell AE, Gratzer D. Can J Psychiatry. 2022;67:246-249.
Safety gaps in mental health care offers a limited view if focused primarily on patient suicide. This commentary calls for Canadian psychiatric professionals to examine the safety of their patients from a system perspective to develop a research and practice improvement strategy.
Anderson E, Mohr DC, Regenbogen I, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:316-322.
Burnout and low staff morale have been associated with poor patient safety outcomes. This study focused on the association between organizational climate, burnout and morale, and the use of seclusion and restraints in inpatient psychiatric hospitals. The authors recommend that initiatives aimed at reducing restraints and seclusion in inpatient psychiatric facilities also include a component aimed at improving organizational climate and staff morale.
Berg SH, Rørtveit K, Walby FA, et al. BMJ Open. 2020;10:e040088.
Patient safety is an emerging focus within the mental health field. This qualitative study highlights three themes of perceived safe clinical care for patients in a suicidal crisis – being recognized as suicidal, receiving personalized treatment, and adapting care to meet fluctuating behaviors.   

Nicklin W, Hughes L, eds. Patient Safety. Healthc Q. 2020;22(Sp2):1-128.

Articles in this special issue report on initiatives undertaken by the Canadian National Patient Safety Consortium with a focus on the effect patient partnerships on initiative priority areas including never events, safety culture and homecare safety improvements.
Archer S, Thibaut BI, Dewa LH, et al. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2019;27:211-223.
Researchers conducted focus groups in this qualitative study of staff in mental healthcare settings and assessed the barriers and facilitators to incident reporting. The authors identified unique challenges to incident reporting in mental health, including the incidence of violence and aggressive behavior. Participants often underreported violent or aggressive events because they attributed the behavior to the patient’s diagnosis, and cited dissatisfaction with how reported incidents were handled by police.
Cullen SW, Xie M, Vermeulen JM, et al. Med Care. 2019;57:913-920.
Various factors can impact patient safety risk in psychiatric settings. This study assessed the prevalence of AEs and MEs in community hospitals and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals and found that psychiatric inpatients at community hospitals were twice as likely to experience these patient safety events than VHA inpatients, even after controlling for patient and hospital characteristics.
Schwappach DLB, Niederhauser A.  Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2019;28:1363-1373.
This study focused on healthcare workers speaking-up behavior in six psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland. The authors found significant differences in speaking-up despite having moderate to high scores on items that were associated with psychological safety. Although nurses reported patient safety concerns more frequently, they also remained silent more often compared with psychologists and physicians, indicating they may feel less psychological safety.

Sentinel Event Alert. July 30, 2019;(61):1-5.

Anticoagulant medications are known to be high-risk for adverse drug events. Although direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) require less monitoring than warfarin, they are still associated with an increased risk of patient harm if not prescribed and administered correctly. The Joint Commission has issued a new sentinel event alert to raise awareness of the risks related to DOACs, and in particular, the challenges associated with stopping bleeding in patients on these medications. The alert suggests that health care organizations develop patient education materials, policies, and evidence-based guidelines to ensure that DOACs and reversal agents are used appropriately. A past WebM&M commentary discussed common errors related to the use of DOACs.
Mokkenstorm JK, Kerkhof AJFM, Smit JH, et al. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2018;48:745-754.
Suicide in all settings is considered a sentinel event. This commentary describes an aspirational suicide eradication program. The approach combines direct identification of suicidal behavior and treatment, system-focused process improvements, and organizational safety culture as interdependent strategies for eliminating suicide. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed a suicide attempt on an inpatient medical unit.
Vermeulen JM, Doedens P, Cullen SW, et al. Psychiatr Serv. 2018;69:1087-1094.
Prior research has shown that numerous factors may impact patient safety in the inpatient psychiatry setting. In this study involving 4371 patients admitted to 14 inpatient psychiatric units at acute care general hospitals, researchers found that older patients and those with longer length of stay were at increased risk for adverse events and medical errors.
Zaheer S, Ginsburg LR, Wong HJ, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2018;7:e000433.
Establishing a culture of safety within health care organizations requires strong leadership support. This cross-sectional survey study of nurses, allied health professionals, and unit clerks working in the inpatient setting at a single hospital found that positive perceptions of senior leadership support for safety and positive perceptions of teamwork were associated with positive perceptions of patient safety. In addition, when staff perceived senior leadership support for safety to be lacking, the positive impact of direct managerial leadership on staff perceptions of patient safety was more pronounced.
Cleary M, Lees D, Lopez V. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2018;39:980-982.
Effective apology behaviors improve opportunities for error resolution for clinicians, patients, and families. This commentary highlights the importance of expressing empathy, considering legal implications, and demonstrating individual, leadership, and organizational support of open disclosure.
Keers RN, Plácido M, Bennett K, et al. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0206233.
This interview study used a human factors method, the critical incident technique, to identify underlying factors in medication administration errors in a mental health inpatient facility. The team identified multiple interconnected vulnerabilities, including inadequate staffing, interruptions, and communication challenges. The findings underscore the persistence of widely documented medication safety administration concerns.
A woman with a history of psychiatric illness presented to the emergency department with agitation, hallucinations, tachycardia, and transient hypoxia. The consulting psychiatric resident attributed the tachycardia and hypoxia to her underlying agitation and admitted her to an inpatient psychiatric facility. Over the next few days, her tachycardia persisted and continued to be attributed to her psychiatric disease. On hospital day 5, the patient was found unresponsive and febrile, with worsening tachycardia, tachypnea, and hypoxia; she had diffuse myoclonus and increased muscle tone.
O'Connor K, Neff DM, Pitman S. Eur Psychiatry. 2018;53:74-99.
Clinician burnout has been associated with decreased job satisfaction. Burnout may also be detrimental to patient safety. This systematic review and meta-analysis found high rates of burnout among mental health professionals. The authors recommend strategies to address burnout including promoting professional autonomy, developing teamwork, and providing quality clinical supervision.
Williams SC, Schmaltz SP, Castro GM, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018;44:643-650.
The Joint Commission identifies inpatient suicide as a sentinel event. Little is known about the epidemiology of hospital suicides other than that they are rare and occur mostly in psychiatry wards. Researchers examined two national databases to develop the first data-driven appraisal of hospital suicide rates. Nationally, between 49 and 65 hospital suicides occur each year. Nearly 75% happen during psychiatric treatment, and the most common means of death is hanging. This hospital suicide rate is an order of magnitude lower than prior estimates. An accompanying editorial raises concerns about the much larger epidemic of suicide immediately after psychiatric hospital discharge. A prior WebM&M commentary highlighted additional strategies to reduce hospital suicide risk.
Kroll DS, Shellman AD, Gitlin DF. J Patient Saf. 2018;14:e51-e55.
Incident reporting systems are widely implemented in health care systems, but they are often underutilized by clinicians. This institution implemented a psychiatry-specific incident reporting tool. Researchers found that physicians submitted more incident reports but there was no significant change in how many serious harm events were identified. An Annual Perspective described the challenges in measuring and responding to serious patient harm.
Reilly CA, Cullen SW, Watts B, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019;45:63-69.
A number of studies have shown that incident reporting systems only capture a small proportion of suspected adverse events in hospitals. Conducted in inpatient psychiatric units at Veterans Affairs hospitals, the study found that only a minority of adverse events identified through chart review were voluntarily reported by clinicians. A recent commentary discussed the inherent limitations of incident reporting systems and suggested ways to optimize their utility.