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Minyé HM, Benjamin EM. Br Dent J. 2022;232:879-885.
High reliability organization (HRO) principles used in other high-risk industries (such as aviation) can be applied patient safety. This article provides an overview of how HRO principles (preoccupation with failure, situational awareness, reluctance to simplify, deference to expertise, and commitment to resilience) can be successfully applied in dentistry.

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.
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.
Neily J, Soncrant C, Mills PD, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1:e185147.
The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum both consider wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient surgeries to be never events. Despite improvement approaches ranging from the Universal Protocol to nonpayment for the procedures themselves and any consequent care, these serious surgical errors continue to occur. This study measured the incidence of incorrect surgeries in Veterans Health Administration medical centers from 2010 to 2017. Surgical patient safety events resulting in harm were rare and declined by more than two-thirds from 2000 to 2017. Dentistry, ophthalmology, and neurosurgery had the highest incidence of in–operating room adverse events. Root cause analysis revealed that 29% of events could have been prevented with a correctly performed time-out. A WebM&M commentary examined an incident involving a wrong-side surgery.
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.
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.
Neily J, Mills PD, Eldridge N, et al. Arch Surg. 2011;146:1235-9.
This analysis of incorrect surgical procedures in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system found an overall decline in the number of reported wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure errors compared with the authors' prior study. As in the earlier report, half of the incorrect procedures occurred outside of the operating room. Root cause analyses of errors revealed that lack of standardization and human factors issues were major contributing factors. During the time period of this study, the VA implemented a teamwork training program that has been associated with a significant decline in surgical mortality. The authors propose that additional, focused team training may be one solution to this persistent problem.
Stahel PF, Sabel AL, Victoroff MS, et al. Arch Surg. 2010;145:978-84.
Efforts to prevent wrong-site and wrong-patient surgical errors (WSPEs) initially focused on procedural disciplines and operating room procedures. However, this analysis of WSPEs that were voluntarily reported to a Colorado malpractice insurance company database found that a significant proportion of WSPEs were committed by physicians in non-surgical fields (such as internal medicine). Root cause analysis revealed a number of contributing causes, with diagnostic errors and communication errors the primary culprits. Interestingly, the injured patients did not file a malpractice lawsuit in the vast majority of cases. This study confirms and extends prior research showing that many WSPEs actually occur outside the operating room. The authors call for strict adherence to the Joint Commission Universal Protocol in order to prevent these never events.
Duthie EA. J Patient Saf. 2010;6:108-114.
This study examines five wrong-procedure cases by applying James Reason’s human error theory, and describes the role of human behavior and cognitive processes in the events. The authors conclude that a systems approach is a more effective prevention strategy than relying on education, counseling, and disciplinary action.
Neily J, Mills PD, Eldridge N, et al. Arch Surg. 2009;144:1028-34.
Wrong-patient and wrong-site surgeries are considered never events, as they are devastating errors that arise from serious underlying safety problems. This study used Veterans Administration data to analyze the broader concept of "incorrect" surgical procedures, including near misses and errors in procedures performed outside the operating room (for example, in interventional radiology). Root cause analysis was used to identify underlying safety problems. Errors occurred in virtually all specialties that perform procedures. The authors found that many cases could be attributed in part to poor communication that may not have been addressed by preoperative time-outs; for example, several cases in which surgical implants were unavailable would have required communication well before the day of surgery. The authors argue for teamwork training based on crew resource management principles to address these serious errors.
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.
Dillon KA. AORN J. 2008;88:437-442.
This article discusses the reasons for utilizing the Joint Commission Universal Protocol for time outs and describes a process for implementing its use.
Michaels RK, Makary MA, Dahab Y, et al. Ann Surg. 2007;245:526-32.
Wrong site operations are rare and often occur when systems to prevent them fail. This study reviewed existing prevention strategies, such as the Joint Commission's Universal Protocol, to develop a framework for hospitals to assess their wrong site event prevention efforts. The proposed framework asks whether a behaviorally specific policy has been enacted and whether staff understand the policy, and goes on to recommend directly observing the policy being put into practice. The authors advocate standardized interventions utilizing effective methods to measure safety. A previous Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) WebM&M commentary discusses factors that place patients at risk for wrong site surgery.