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Journal Article > Commentary
Smetzer J, Baker C, Byrne FD, Cohen MR. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2010;36:152-163, 1AP-2AP.
This article discusses how a hospital responded to a fatal medication error that occurred when a nurse mistakenly administered epidural pain medication intravenously to a pregnant teenager. Findings from the root cause analysis of the error revealed underlying factors including fatigue (the nurse had worked a double shift the day before), failed safety systems (the hospital had recently implemented a bar coding system, but not all nurses were trained and workarounds were routine), and human factors engineering (bags containing antibiotics and pain medications were similar in appearance and could be accessed with the same type of catheter). A range of safety interventions were implemented as a result. However, the related editorials by leaders in the safety field (Drs. Sidney Dekker, Charles Denham, and Lucian Leape) take the hospital to task for focusing on narrow improvements rather than using complexity theory to solve underlying problems, and for creating a "second victim" by disciplining the nurse (who was fired and ultimately criminally prosecuted) rather than acknowledging the institution's responsibility and the caregiver's emotional distress. The article and commentaries provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the true impact of a never event.
Journal Article > Study
Metzger J, Welebob E, Bates DW, Lipsitz S, Classen DC. Health Aff (Millwood). 2010;29:655-663.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) has provided significant safety benefits in research studies, especially when combined with clinical decision support to prevent common prescribing errors. However, CPOE's "real-world" performance has been mixed, with high-profile studies documenting a variety of unintended consequences. This AHRQ-funded study used simulated patient records to evaluate the ability of eight commercial CPOE modules to prevent medication errors. The overall results were disappointing, as CPOE failed to prevent many medication errors—including fully half of potentially fatal errors, which are considered never events. The individual CPOE products varied significantly in their ability to detect potential errors. Some hospitals did achieve superior performance, which the authors ascribe to greater experience with CPOE and implementation of more advanced decision support tools. Another recent article found that reminders within CPOE systems resulted in only small improvements in adherence to recommended care processes. Taken together, these studies imply that CPOE implementation may not result in large immediate effects on safety and quality in typical practice settings.