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Care Coordination Strategies and Barriers during Medication Safety Incidents: a Qualitative, Cognitive Task Analysis.

Russ-Jara AL, Luckhurst CL, Dismore RA, Arthur KJ, Ifeachor AP, Militello LG, Glassman PA, Zillich AJ, Weiner M. Care Coordination Strategies and Barriers during Medication Safety Incidents: a Qualitative, Cognitive Task Analysis. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Aug 1; 36(8):2212-2220.

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BACKGROUND: Medication errors are prevalent in healthcare institutions worldwide, often arising from difficulties in care coordination among primary care providers, specialists, and pharmacists. Greater knowledge about care coordination surrounding medication safety incidents can inform efforts to improve patient safety. OBJECTIVES: To identify strategies that hospital and outpatient healthcare professionals (HCPs) use, and barriers encountered, when they coordinate care during a medication safety incident involving an adverse drug reaction, drug-drug interaction, or drug-renal concern. DESIGN: We asked HCPs to complete a form whenever they encountered these incidents and intervened to prevent or mitigate patient harm. We stratified incidents across HCP roles and incident categories to conduct follow-up cognitive task analysis interviews with HCPs. PARTICIPANTS: We invited all physicians and pharmacists working in inpatient or outpatient care at a tertiary Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We examined 24 incidents: 12 from physicians and 12 from pharmacists, with a total of 8 incidents per category. APPROACH: Interviews were transcribed and analyzed via a two-stage inductive, qualitative analysis. In stage 1, we analyzed each incident to identify decision requirements. In stage 2, we analyzed results across incidents to identify emergent themes. KEY RESULTS: Most incidents (19, 79%) were from outpatient care. HCPs relied on four main strategies to coordinate care: cognitive decentering; collaborative decision-making; back-up behaviors; and contingency planning. HCPs encountered four main barriers: role ambiguity and constraints, breakdowns (e.g., delays) in care, challenges related to the electronic health record, and factors that increased coordination complexity. Each strategy and barrier occurred across all incident categories and HCP groups. Pharmacists went to extra effort to ensure safety plans were implemented. CONCLUSIONS: Similar strategies and barriers were evident across HCP groups and incident types. Strategies for enhancing patient safety may be strengthened by deliberate organizational support. Some barriers could be addressed by improving work systems.

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