"Chance Favors Only the Prepared Mind": Preparing Minds to Systematically Reduce Hazards in the Testing Process in Primary Care
ABSTRACT Testing plays a vital role in primary care. Failures in the process are common and can be harmful. As the great 19th century microbiologist Louis Pasteur put it "chance favors only the prepared mind." Our objective is to prepare minds in primary care practices to improve safety in the testing process. Various principles from safety science can be applied.
A prospective methodology that uses an anonymous practice survey based on concepts from failure modes and effects analysis is proposed. Responses are used to rank perceived hazards in the testing process, leading to prioritization of areas for intervention. Secondary data analysis (using data from a study of medication safety) was used to explore the value of this approach in the context of assessing the testing process.
At 3 primary care practice sites, a total of 61 staff members completed 4 survey items examining the testing process. Comparison across practices shows that each has a distinct profile of hazards, which would lead each on a different path toward improvement.
The proposed approach treats each practice as a unique complex adaptive system aiming to help it thrive by inculcating trust, mutual respect, and collaboration. Implications for patient safety research and practice are discussed.
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ABSTRACT: Few reliable and efficient systems support the communication of test results to outpatients, and this may lead to patient dissatisfaction with test result communication. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of physicians' use of a test results management tool embedded in an electronic health record on patient satisfaction with test result communication. A prospective, cluster-randomized, controlled trial of 570 patient encounters in 26 outpatient primary care practices was performed from December 1, 2002, to April 31, 2005. Physicians in the intervention practices were trained and given access to a physician test results management tool with imbedded patient notification functions to evaluate whether patient satisfaction with communication of test results ordered by the primary care provider was improved. Patient satisfaction surveys were conducted by telephone after the patient underwent the test and were administered before and after the intervention in both arms. The survey response rate after successful patient contact was 74.2% (570/768). After adjusting for patient age, sex, race, socioeconomic status, and insurance type, the intervention significantly increased patient satisfaction with test results communication (odds ratio, 2.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-5.25; P = .03). In addition, patients in the postintervention group were more satisfied with information given them for medical treatments and conditions regarding their results (odds ratio, 3.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.30-9.17; P = .02). An automated test results management system can improve patient satisfaction with communication of test results ordered by their primary care provider and can improve patient satisfaction with the communication of information regarding their condition and treatment plans.Archives of Internal Medicine 12/2007; 167(20):2233-9. DOI:10.1001/archinte.167.20.2233 · 13.25 Impact Factor
Article: The science of improvement.JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 04/2008; 299(10):1182-4. DOI:10.1001/jama.299.10.1182 · 30.39 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Missed or delayed diagnoses are a common but understudied area in patient safety research. To better understand the types, causes, and prevention of such errors, we surveyed clinicians to solicit perceived cases of missed and delayed diagnoses. A 6-item written survey was administered at 20 grand rounds presentations across the United States and by mail at 2 collaborating institutions. Respondents were asked to report 3 cases of diagnostic errors and to describe their perceived causes, seriousness, and frequency. A total of 669 cases were reported by 310 clinicians from 22 institutions. After cases without diagnostic errors or lacking sufficient details were excluded, 583 remained. Of these, 162 errors (28%) were rated as major, 241 (41%) as moderate, and 180 (31%) as minor or insignificant. The most common missed or delayed diagnoses were pulmonary embolism (26 cases [4.5% of total]), drug reactions or overdose (26 cases [4.5%]), lung cancer (23 cases [3.9%]), colorectal cancer (19 cases [3.3%]), acute coronary syndrome (18 cases [3.1%]), breast cancer (18 cases [3.1%]), and stroke (15 cases [2.6%]). Errors occurred most frequently in the testing phase (failure to order, report, and follow-up laboratory results) (44%), followed by clinician assessment errors (failure to consider and overweighing competing diagnosis) (32%), history taking (10%), physical examination (10%), and referral or consultation errors and delays (3%). Physicians readily recalled multiple cases of diagnostic errors and were willing to share their experiences. Using a new taxonomy tool and aggregating cases by diagnosis and error type revealed patterns of diagnostic failures that suggested areas for improvement. Systematic solicitation and analysis of such errors can identify potential preventive strategies.Archives of internal medicine 11/2009; 169(20):1881-7. DOI:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.333 · 13.25 Impact Factor