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Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; June 3, 2021.

Wrong site/wrong patent surgery is a persistent healthcare never event. This report examines National Health Service (NHS) reporting data to identify how ambulatory patient identification errors contribute to wrong patient care. The authors recommend that the NHS use human factors methods to design control processes to target and manage the risks in the outpatient environment such as lack of technology integration, shared waiting area space, and reliance on verbal communication at clinic.

Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; April 22, 2021.

Wrong-site surgery in dentistry is a frequent and persistent never event. This report examines a case of pediatric wrong tooth extraction to reveal how the application of safety standards is influenced by the work environment and discusses the use of forcing functions to create barriers to error in practice.
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, 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.
Anderson JE, Watt AJ. Int J Qual Health Care. 2020;16.
Using a Safety-II framework, the authors used a mixed-methods approach to retrospectively analyze root cause analysis (RCA) reports of ‘never events’ occurring in the United Kingdom to characterize proposed actions, insights and recommendations to prevent future events. The analysis found that proposed actions were generally of low-to-moderate effectiveness, and that despite identifying systems challenges and weaknesses, many reports did not include proposed actions to mitigate or remove risks. The authors conclude that applying concepts from resilient healthcare can identify vulnerabilities and opportunities for strengthening the RCA system and improving the quality of RCA reports.
Geraghty A, Ferguson L, McIlhenny C, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16.
Operating room list errors are often cited as leading to wrong-side, wrong-site or wrong-procedure errors. This retrospective study analyzed two years of data from the United Kingdom and found that while no wrong-side, wrong-site or wrong-procedure surgeries were performed during the period, 0.29% of cases (86 cases) included a list error. Wrong-side list errors accounted for the majority of all list errors (72%). Tracking and reducing operating room list errors may help to prevent wrong-side, -site, or -procedure errors.
Graham C, Reid S, Lord TC, et al. Br Dent J. 2019;226:32-38.
Reporting and avoidance of “never events,” such as a wrong tooth extraction, is important for providing consistently safe dental care. This article describes changes made in safety procedures, including introducing surgical safety briefings or huddles in an outpatient oral surgery unit of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, that eliminated never events for more than two years.
Bathla S, Chadwick M, Nevins EJ, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e503-e508.
Wrong-site surgery represents a never event. In the United States, The Joint Commission requires marking of the surgical site prior to surgery as part of the Universal Protocol. Researchers conducted a survey study of 120 surgeons in the United Kingdom and found significant variation in adherence to the national mandate for preoperative surgical site-marking.
McKinley J, Dempster M, Gormley GJ. Med Educ. 2015;49:427-35.
Wrong-side procedures still occur at alarming rates, particularly outside of the operating room. This study exposed medical students to various types of distractions and measured their ability to distinguish a person's left from right side from different perspectives. Cognitive distractions had a bigger negative impact than ambient ward noise on the students' performance.
Gauss T, Merckx P, Brasher C, et al. Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2013;398:277-85.
Deviations from the previously agreed upon perioperative care plan were associated with an increased risk of adverse events during surgery. Unplanned changes in surgical procedures have been previously associated with higher risk for retained surgical instruments.
Frey B, Ersch J, Bernet V, et al. Qual Saf Health Care. 2009;18:446-9.
Parents of hospitalized children feel personally responsible for their children's safety, and efforts are being made to engage parents in safety efforts. This retrospective review of incident reports found more than 100 cases in a 5-year period in which parents were directly involved in adverse events in a pediatric intensive care unit. These included cases where parents detected an adverse event as well as cases where the parents caused the adverse event (for example, by accidentally disconnecting equipment). The authors advocate for development of a safety culture that encourages parents to report concerns, a goal that is a major focus of the Josie King Foundation.
Rhodes P, Giles SJ, Cook GA, et al. Qual Saf Health Care. 2008;17:409-15.
Wrong-site surgery is a rare yet devastating outcome. Prevention strategies have focused on adoption of the Joint Commission's Universal Protocol and structured communication tools such as time outs. This study examined the impact of a national safety alert issued to all NHS hospital trusts in England and Wales about preventing wrong-site surgery. Investigators interviewed surgeons and senior nurses in the 12-15 months following the alert and discovered significant variation in the adoption of proposed recommendations. While the alert was associated with greater awareness and surgical marking of sites, the authors discuss the complex nature of change management around the new policy. A related commentary [see link below] discusses the broader context of efforts to eliminate wrong-site surgery. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed the factors contributing to a near-miss wrong-site surgery, and a recent commentary outlined the anatomy of a time out.
Garnerin P, Arès M, Huchet A, et al. Qual Saf Health Care. 2008;17:454-8.
This study combined implementation of verification protocols with periodic audits and feedback to increase compliance with patient identification in the prevention of wrong-patient and wrong-site surgery. While the process did improve, the authors advocate for technological solutions to address the limitations of purely manual systems. A related commentary [see link below] discusses the broader context of efforts to eliminate wrong-site surgery.
Mitchell P, Nicholson CL, Jenkins A. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2006;148:1289-92; discussion 1292.
The authors interviewed surgeons involved in wrong-site incidents and found that the errors of omission were primarily due to distractions in the operating environment.
Fraser SG, Adams W. Br J Ophthalmol. 2006;90:814-6.
The authors provide an overview of wrong site surgery, with special attention to incidents in ophthalmology.