eLetters

14 e-Letters

published between 2019 and 2022

  • The problem with non-clinical incident reports

    We can only reiterate the points brought forward by Carl Macrae in “The problem with incident reporting”. In our own work with incident reporting systems in the UK and Austria we observe that an estimated 50% of incident reports are eliminated without further consideration due to their non-clinical nature, even if they may affect patient safety. The remaining clinical reports are then pigeonholed to fit existing medical categories of expertise for further investigation. Hence, current incident reporting practices do not truly reflect the systemic complexities of medical errors, which are composed of both clinical and non-clinical elements. Incident reporting systems in healthcare need to either use more stringent reporting criteria to exclude non-clinical incidents upfront (even if they affect patient safety), but this would mean cutting themselves short of opportunities for whole system improvement. Alternatively, non-clinical reports should be further investigated to determine their potential contribution to (un)safe practice. This is likely to require the inclusion of non-clinical, organisational experts in the analysis of incident reports.

  • Authors response to comment by Maureen E. Burger

    We appreciate the concerns raised and agree that accurately presenting the findings of our study regarding patient-reported possible PICC-related complications is important. We took several steps to ensure transparency in how we presented our data. First, we were vigilant about consistently defining our outcomes as “possible complications” in all key areas of the paper including the main outcomes and conclusions section of the abstract, study measures section in the methods, main findings in the results section and in the discussion. The fact that the term “possible” or “potential” was not always used or some terms appeared to be used interchangeably was to improve readability of the article. In general, however, we were conscientious about clearly noting that we asked patients about signs or symptoms of a potential complication or adverse effect. Second, we purposefully chose to not present the data as complication rates (implying that these were actual events), but as the percentage of patients reporting a given event – thus we faithfully represented what we were told by patients during follow-up assessments. Third, we took these approaches because our primary objective was to accurately present the data collected from our patients; if something mattered enough to a patient to tell us about it, then it should matter to us as healthcare professionals regardless of internal standards that we may use to define serious medical complications. While that’s not to say that f...

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  • Optimal threshold of professional nurse staff and complementary staff needed to achieve optimal outcomes

    "What is needed now is an understanding of what is the threshold of professional nurse staff and complementary staff needed to achieve optimal outcomes, and how are these levels influenced by patient nursing acuity and the education, experience, organisation and work environment of the nurse workforce." --- I agree with you. Further, this study may be approached by Park's Optimized Nurse Staffing (Sweet Spot) Estimation Theory (Park, 2017): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jan.13284. I am doing the research now.

  • Patient-reported complications related to peripherally inserted central catheters: a multicentre prospective cohort study

    Krein, et al (Patient-Reported Complications Related to Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters: A Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study; Feb 2019) should be commended for sharing the results of this very interesting study. After reading it a few times, I am compelled to share the following concerns with you and the research team. The knowledge regarding PICC-related complications is indeed incomplete, but I am not sure if the main outcome(s) of your study are clearly represented to the reader.

    The word “possible” is critical to correctly interpreting the results of this study. The term “complication” implies a medical diagnosis or medical confirmation – which your study attempted to do by conducting the chart reviews to confirm the presence or absence of a PICC complication, with limited success. Terms such as signs, symptoms, issues, adverse effects, and complications are used interchangeably throughout the paper to describe the patients’ self-reported experience, but without the benefit of operational definitions. These are not synonyms. Definitions help us to have a common understanding of a word or topic; they help us get on the same page when reading about an issue.

    The word “possible” seems appropriate in the main outcome(s) statement, but is curiously missing from the report title. The phrase “medical complications” is used in the title of Table 2 – which clearly reports predominantly patient self-reported symptoms. The same bias is exhibited...

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