The pandemic has complicated efforts to eliminate prolonged stays in the emergency department (ED), especially for children and adolescents in need of inpatient mental health care.

North Shore-based Beverly Hospital sees more young patients waiting in the ED for placement and acuity has risen as well. While the hospital works to find them inpatient beds, the ED staff, now supported with additional specialized providers, has reconfigured spaces to provide young patients with appropriate structure, programming and amenities.

The state recently released a long-range plan for behavioral health reform but is also working on shorter-term strategies to increase inpatient capacity. That work has been made more difficult with pandemic-related distancing measures and staffing shortages.

“These are real people telling stories about events they were involved in and the personal impact of those events on them and the people they work with. The stories are also about the systems they work within — what went wrong and what worked well.” 
— Peter Laussen, M.B.B.S., Executive Vice President of Health Affairs at Boston Children's Hospital, Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Risky Business

Patient Safety Guidance for the Virtual Visit provides practical advice for improving the safety of clinical encounters that take place via computer, smartphone, tablet or telephone. It describes steps clinicians can take before, during and after seeing patients remotely.

It also covers what organizations can do to ensure that virtual care is accessible to all, including patients who face barriers such as insufficient connectivity, lack of appropriate devices, economic hardship, and physical or cognitive challenges.

The guide is based on insights gathered from an interdisciplinary task force of specialists in telehealth and patient safety, plus a review of current literature and scientific evidence. It was developed under the auspices of the Academic Medical Center Patient Safety Organization of CRICO, the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, Inc.

Racial and ethnic disparities in health care are the leading threat to patient safety according to an annual top-10 list released by ECRI Institute, a non-profit research and risk management firm. Eight of the 10 concerns relate to COVID-19. Among them are improvised use of medical devices, telehealth workflow challenges and supply chain interruptions. The top-10 issues are chosen based on analysis of more than 4 million patient safety events and the judgment of ECRI’s patient safety and medication safety experts.

Upcoming events

  • Key Ingredients for Vaccine Equity. Dr. Joseph Betancourt and Michele Courton Brown lead a conversation about the multiple workstreams needed to achieve vaccine equity, including cultural competence, logistics, and operations. March 19, 12 - 12:30 p.m. Register here

  • Risky Business: Navigating a Shifting Health Care Landscape. Risky Business is a unique conference with a simple premise: Learn from thought leaders in high risk industries to improve health care safety and quality. Brought to you by the Betsy Lehman Center, Boston Children's Hospital, CRICO, and other partners. Speakers will discuss topics such as equity, leadership, teamwork and managing logistical challenges. April 15, 12 - 2 p.m. Register here
Patient Safety Beat is published by the Betsy Lehman Center, a state agency that supports providers, patients and policymakers working together to advance the safety and quality of health care.