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Berwick DM, Leape LL, eds. BMJ. 2000:320(7237).
A unique and authoritative introduction to the field of patient safety. This article draws on the expertise of many leaders in the field as each of them share their perspectives with short pieces on distinct topics. Readers will quickly gain insight into both the field and those responsible for some of the progress.
Journal Article > Study
Longo DR, Hewett JE, Ge B, Schubert S. JAMA. 2005;294:2858-2865.
To grade progress since release of the landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, this AHRQ-funded study examined the status and evolution of patient safety systems through a survey of acute care hospitals in Missouri and Utah. Investigators characterized their assessment based on variables that included presence of computerized physician order entry systems, computerized test results, evaluation of adverse drug events, specific patient safety policies, use of data in patient safety programs, drug administration and safety procedures, error reporting processes, prevention policies, and root cause analyses. More than 100 hospitals completed the survey in 2002 and again in 2004. Findings demonstrated only modest improvements in certain areas with variability noted in others. For instance, surgical areas and medication processes seemed to embrace the greatest level of patient safety systems. However, the authors point out that the overall findings fall short of the IOM recommendations and necessitate a more intensive agenda for accelerated improvements. An accompanying editorial (link below) provides an overview of the factors and challenges involved in promoting change to improve patient safety.
Aspden P, Corrigan JM, Wolcott J, Erickson SM, eds for the Committee for Data Standards for Patient Safety, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004. ISBN: 030909776.
Robust information systems serve as a backbone for both preventing medical error and learning from it. The authors submit that a national information infrastructure will facilitate immediate access to patient information and decision support mechanisms. They also suggest that a byproduct of the infrastructure will be a consistent method for managing patient safety data and the ability to capture it in real time as a result of care.
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.
Journal Article > Study
'Global Trigger Tool' shows that adverse events in hospitals may be ten times greater than previously measured.
Classen DC, Resar R, Griffin F, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2011;30:581-589.
Despite numerous studies over the past three decades, one fundamental patient safety question remains controversial: what proportion of hospitalized patients are harmed by medical care? Prior estimates range from approximately 3% to nearly 17%, but this study found that nearly one-third of patients experienced an adverse event during hospitalization. This study used the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Global Trigger Tool to detect adverse events and also found that this trigger tool identified significantly more adverse events than voluntary reporting or the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators. An important caveat is that this study did not assess whether the adverse events detected were preventable. Nevertheless, the results do raise the concern that adverse events remain common despite enhanced safety efforts. The challenges of accurately measuring patient safety events were discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M perspective.
Journal Article > Study
Larsen E, Fong A, Wernz C, Ratwani RM. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018;25:187-191.
When electronic health records are out of use, either for planned upgrades or because of unexpected malfunction, this downtime disrupts usual hospital workflow. This study conducted an automated text search to identify incident reports related to electronic record downtime and analyzed the selected reports. Electronic health record downtime led to issues with laboratory testing including specimen identification errors and delayed transmission of results. Medication administration errors were also prevalent during downtime. Researchers found that downtime could hinder patient identification and information availability, which may result in serious safety hazards. The authors advocate for development of more comprehensive downtime procedures to address safety concerns as well as more consistent adherence to existing procedures.