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Quality & Safety in the Literature: March 2021
  1. David A Fried1,
  2. Ashwin Gupta1,2,
  3. Nathan Houchens1,2
  1. 1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2 Medicine Service, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr David A Fried, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA; daafried{at}

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Healthcare quality and safety span multiple topics across the spectrum of academic and clinical disciplines. Keeping abreast of the rapidly growing body of work can be challenging. In this series, we provide succinct summaries of selected relevant studies published in the last several months. Some articles will focus on a particular theme, whereas others will highlight unique publications from high-impact medical journals.

Key points

  • In a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, palliative care services resulted in a reduction of healthcare utilisation as well as symptom burden for patients without cancer. JAMA. 13 Oct 2020.

  • Even in hospitals with ready access to interpretation services, children of non-English-speaking parents experienced a higher rate of medical errors compared with their counterparts without language barriers. JAMA Pediatr. 19 Oct 2020.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in opioid overdoses, disproportionately affecting minority racial and ethnic populations. JAMA. 27 Oct 2020.

Association of receipt of palliative care interventions with health care use, quality of life, and symptom burden among adults with chronic noncancer illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis

JAMA. 13 Oct 2020

Palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients facing life-threatening illnesses, primarily by reducing their physical and emotional suffering. A large body of evidence demonstrates how palliative care improves outcomes for patients with advanced cancer, primarily by reducing symptom burden and healthcare utilisation.1 2 Patients with advanced heart failure and other non-cancer chronic illnesses receive fewer palliative care services than those with cancer diagnoses.3 While the benefits of palliative care logically should also apply to patients with non-cancer terminal illnesses, evidence to support this claim remains sparse. Translating the benefits of palliative care to patients without cancer might significantly aid both patients and healthcare systems since heart disease, stroke, lung diseases and dementia together account for far greater mortality annually than cancer.4 5 Additionally, these patients suffer from significant life-altering symptoms, typically have multiple comorbidities and use substantial …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.