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Staying Current on Patient Safety Research

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 7, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
By Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS

  Tejal K. Gandhi
At the NPSF Patient Safety Congress in May, Dr. Kaveh Shojania, editor-in-chief of BMJ Quality & Safety, provided an overview of key studies in patient safety research over the prior year. I have heard from many attendees that they really learned a lot from his presentation. To fully understand the implications of research, nothing beats having an expert summarize the finer points of an important study.


Dr. Shojania said that this year some of the most interesting studies focused on “ideas and themes…that are important for people on the front lines.” These included the Canadian study of the WHO surgical safety checklists (Urbach et al. 2014); a paper derived from the RN4CAST study of the impact of nurse staffing on outcomes (Aiken et al. 2014); and a study that revealed startlingly high rates of missed diagnoses (Singh et al 2013). We are excited that Dr. Shojania will be providing a new version of his talk on the latest studies from the upcoming year at the 2015 NPSF Annual Congress in Austin, Texas.


Unfortunately, most of us don’t have an expert available at all times to collect the most notable studies and interpret the findings in simple terms that we can apply to our work. In health care as in all industries, many of us struggle to manage the massive flow of information that comes at us every day. And yet, it’s vital to keep up with new developments in patient safety science. Think, for example, of how researchers have shown us the nuances involved in implementing checklists or the potential hazards of electronic medical records. Even the best safety ideas need refinement and adaptation, largely because they are implemented by human beings working in less-than-perfect systems.


So, how do we keep current? Most of us rely on some combination of subscriptions, news digests, conferences and meetings, and networking to learn what we need to know. We also rely on news sources (newspaper articles, social media), but more reliably, we turn to resources like AHRQ’s PS Net or the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Current Awareness Literature Alert (available to members) to learn about new studies. When we surveyed members of the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety at NPSF (ASPPS) about what they need to help them in their work, one of the areas they were most interested in was access to research in patient safety. Partly in response to this, NPSF established an agreement with BMJ Quality & Safety, recognizing it as an official journal of the Foundation. (Read more about the agreement here.) We also include links to news items on our website and in our monthly e-news, and we are adding to the Links and Further Reading section of our website to help point health care professionals to useful resources.


Part of the NPSF mission is to disseminate strategies and best practices to advance patient and workforce safety, including sharing research findings. I hope you’ll let us know how we are doing in this regard.


Where do you get your latest research news? Comment on this post below. Read the President’s Corner archive.


Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, is president of the National Patient Safety Foundation and president of the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute.



Aiken LH, Sloane DM, Bruyneel L, et al. 2014. Nurse staffing and education and hospital mortality in nine European countries: a retrospective observational study. The Lancet. 38(9931);1824 -30. 24 May. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62631-8. [show in context]


Singh H, Davis Giardina T, Meyer AND, Forjuoh SN, Reis, MD, Thomas EJ. 2013. Types and origins of diagnostic errors in primary care settings. JAMA Intern Med. 173(6):418-425. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2777. Available at:


Urbach DR, Govindarajan A, Saskin R, Wilton AS, Baxter NN. 2014. Introduction of surgical safety checklists in Ontario, Canada. N Engl J Med. 370:1029-1038. March 13. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa1308261.

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Test Professional says...
Posted Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Thank you for this excellent article Dr. Gandhi. I found it to be very informative.
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Jennifer Walker says...
Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014
Great Post!
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