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1.  Improving patient discharge and reducing hospital readmissions by using Intervention Mapping 
There is a growing impetus to reorganize the hospital discharge process to reduce avoidable readmissions and costs. The aim of this study was to provide insight into hospital discharge problems and underlying causes, and to give an overview of solutions that guide providers and policy-makers in improving hospital discharge.
The Intervention Mapping framework was used. First, a problem analysis studying the scale, causes, and consequences of ineffective hospital discharge was carried out. The analysis was based on primary data from 26 focus group interviews and 321 individual interviews with patients and relatives, and involved hospital and community care providers. Second, improvements in terms of intervention outcomes, performance objectives and change objectives were specified. Third, 220 experts were consulted and a systematic review of effective discharge interventions was carried out to select theory-based methods and practical strategies required to achieve change and better performance.
Ineffective discharge is related to factors at the level of the individual care provider, the patient, the relationship between providers, and the organisational and technical support for care providers. Providers can reduce hospital readmission rates and adverse events by focusing on high-quality discharge information, well-coordinated care, and direct and timely communication with their counterpart colleagues. Patients, or their carers, should participate in the discharge process and be well aware of their health status and treatment. Assessment by hospital care providers whether discharge information is accurate and understood by patients and their community counterparts, are important examples of overcoming identified barriers to effective discharge. Discharge templates, medication reconciliation, a liaison nurse or pharmacist, regular site visits and teach-back are identified as effective and promising strategies to achieve the desired behavioural and environmental change.
This study provides a comprehensive guiding framework for providers and policy-makers to improve patient handover from hospital to primary care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-389) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4175223  PMID: 25218406
Patient handoff; Patient discharge; Patient readmission; Intervention mapping; Adverse events
2.  Effects of auditing patient safety in hospital care: design of a mixed-method evaluation 
Auditing of patient safety aims at early detection of risks of adverse events and is intended to encourage the continuous improvement of patient safety. The auditing should be an independent, objective assurance and consulting system. Auditing helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance. Audits are broadly conducted in hospitals, but little is known about their effects on the behaviour of healthcare professionals and patient safety outcomes. This study was initiated to evaluate the effects of patient safety auditing in hospital care and to explore the processes and mechanisms underlying these effects.
Methods and design
Our study aims to evaluate an audit system to monitor and improve patient safety in a hospital setting. We are using a mixed-method evaluation with a before-and-after study design in eight departments of one university hospital in the period October 2011–July 2014. We measure several outcomes 3 months before the audit and 15 months after the audit. The primary outcomes are adverse events and complications. The secondary outcomes are experiences of patients, the standardised mortality ratio, prolonged hospital stay, patient safety culture, and team climate. We use medical record reviews, questionnaires, hospital administrative data, and observations to assess the outcomes. A process evaluation will be used to find out which components of internal auditing determine the effects.
We report a study protocol of an effect and process evaluation to determine whether auditing improves patient safety in hospital care. Because auditing is a complex intervention targeted on several levels, we are using a combination of methods to collect qualitative and quantitative data about patient safety at the patient, professional, and department levels. This study is relevant for hospitals that want to early detect unsafe care and improve patient safety continuously.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR3343
PMCID: PMC3708817  PMID: 23800253
Hospital; Patient safety; Safety management; Risk management; Complications; Management system audit; Clinical governance; Professional practice; Adverse events; Auditing
3.  A strategy to enhance the safety and efficiency of handovers of ICU patients: study protocol of the pICUp study 
To use intensive care unit (ICU) facilities efficiently and ensure high quality of care, an optimal patient flow is necessary. Discharging patients relieves the pressure on ICU beds but the risk of premature discharge must be managed carefully. Suboptimal patient discharge may result in ICU readmissions and in patients’ death.
The aim of this study is to obtain insight into the safety and efficiency of current ICU discharge practices and into barriers and facilitators to the implementation of effective ICU discharge interventions, and to develop an implementation strategy tailored to the barriers and facilitators identified.
This study exists of five phases. Phase A: analysis of routinely registered data on variation in ICU readmissions and hospital mortality after ICU discharge of all ICUs participating in the Dutch National Intensive Care Evaluation registry (n = 83). Phase B: systematic review of effective interventions aiming to improve the efficiency and safety of the ICU discharge process. Phase C: assessing the intervention adherence with a questionnaire survey among all Dutch ICUs (n = 90). Phase D: assessing barriers and facilitators to the implementation of effective ICU discharge interventions with a questionnaire survey among all Dutch intensivists (n = 700). The questionnaire will be based on barriers and facilitators identified by focus groups (n = 4) and individual interviews with professionals of ICUs and general wards and adult discharged ICU patients (n = 25 to 30). Phase E: systematic development of an implementation strategy based on the sampled data in phase A to D, and effective implementation strategies from the literature using the intervention mapping method.
Using theory and empirical data, an implementation strategy will be developed to improve the safety and efficiency of the ICU discharge process. The developed strategy will be evaluated in a subsequent study. The knowledge obtained in this study should be used for further implementation of ICU discharge interventions, and can be used for implementation of handover interventions in other healthcare transition settings.
PMCID: PMC3697992  PMID: 23767696
Intensive care; Critical care; Patient safety; Quality of healthcare; Patient handoff; Patient readmission; Hospital mortality; Guideline adherence; Implementation
4.  Improving cancer patient care: development of a generic cancer consumer quality index questionnaire for cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:203.
To develop a Consumer Quality Index (CQI) Cancer Care questionnaire for measuring experiences with hospital care of patients with different types of cancer.
We derived quality aspects from focus group discussions, existing questionnaires and literature. We developed an experience questionnaire and sent it to 1,498 Dutch cancer patients. Another questionnaire measuring the importance of the quality aspects was sent to 600 cancer patients. Data were psychometrically analysed.
The response to the experience questionnaire was 50 percent. Psychometric analysis revealed 12 reliable scales. Patients rated rapid and adequate referral, rapid start of the treatment after diagnosis, enough information and confidence in the healthcare professionals as most important themes. Hospitals received high scores for skills and cooperation of healthcare professionals and a patient-centered approach by doctors; and low scores for psychosocial guidance and information at completion of the treatment.
The CQI Cancer Care questionnaire is a valuable tool for the evaluation of the quality of cancer care from the patient’s perspective. Large scale implementation is necessary to determine the discriminatory powers of the questionnaire and may enable healthcare providers to improve the quality of cancer care. Preliminary results indicate that hospitals could improve their psychosocial guidance and information provision.
PMCID: PMC3648393  PMID: 23617741
Consumer Quality Index (CQI); Focus groups; Healthcare evaluation; Healthcare quality; Patient experience; Quality indicators
5.  Medication reconciliation at hospital admission and discharge: insufficient knowledge, unclear task reallocation and lack of collaboration as major barriers to medication safety 
Medication errors are a leading cause of patient harm. Many of these errors result from an incomplete overview of medication either at a patient’s referral to or at discharge from the hospital. One solution is medication reconciliation, a formal process in which health care professionals partner with patients to ensure an accurate and complete transfer of medication information at interfaces of care. In 2007, the Dutch government compelled hospitals to implement a bundle concerning medication reconciliation at hospital admission and discharge. But to date many hospitals have failed to implement this bundle fully. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the barriers and drivers of the implementation process.
We performed face to face, semi-structured interviews with twenty health care professionals and managers from several departments at a 953 bed university hospital in the Netherlands and also from the surrounding community health services. The interviews were analysed using a combined theoretical framework of Grol and Cabana to classify the drivers and barriers identified.
There is lack of awareness and insufficient knowledge of health care professionals about the health care problem and the bundle medication reconciliation. These result in a lack of support for implementing the bundle. In addition clinicians are reluctant to reallocate tasks to nurses or pharmacy technicians. Another major barrier is a lack of communication, understanding and collaboration between hospital and community caregivers. The introduction of more competitive market forces has made matters worse. Major drivers are a good implementation plan, patient awareness, and obligation by the government.
We identified a wide range of barriers and drivers which health care professionals believe influence the implementation of medication reconciliation. This reflects the complexity of implementation. Implementation can be improved if these factors are adequately addressed. The feasibility and effectiveness of these strategies should be tested in controlled trails.
PMCID: PMC3416693  PMID: 22721361
Adverse events; Safety; Quality; Medication reconciliation; Medication error; Implementation; Implementation barriers
6.  The incidence, root-causes, and outcomes of adverse events in surgical units: implication for potential prevention strategies 
We need to know the scale and underlying causes of surgical adverse events (AEs) in order to improve the safety of care in surgical units. However, there is little recent data. Previous record review studies that reported on surgical AEs in detail are now more than ten years old. Since then surgical technology and quality assurance have changed rapidly. The objective of this study was to provide more recent data on the incidence, consequences, preventability, causes and potential strategies to prevent AEs among hospitalized patients in surgical units.
A structured record review study of 7,926 patient records was carried out by trained nurses and medical specialist reviewers in 21 Dutch hospitals. The aim was to determine the presence of AEs during hospitalizations in 2004 and to consider how far they could be prevented. Of all AEs, the consequences, responsible medical specialty, causes and potential prevention strategies were identified. Surgical AEs were defined as AEs attributable to surgical treatment and care processes and were selected for analysis in detail.
Surgical AEs occurred in 3.6% of hospital admissions and represented 65% of all AEs. Forty-one percent of the surgical AEs was considered to be preventable. The consequences of surgical AEs were more severe than for other types of AEs, resulting in more permanent disability, extra treatment, prolonged hospital stay, unplanned readmissions and extra outpatient visits. Almost 40% of the surgical AEs were infections, 23% bleeding, and 22% injury by mechanical, physical or chemical cause. Human factors were involved in the causation of 65% of surgical AEs and were considered to be preventable through quality assurance and training.
Surgical AEs occur more often than other types of AEs, are more often preventable and their consequences are more severe. Therefore, surgical AEs have a major impact on the burden of AEs during hospitalizations. These findings concur with the results from previous studies. However, evidence-based solutions to reduce surgical AEs are increasingly available. Interventions directed at human causes are recommended to improve the safety of surgical care. Examples are team training and the surgical safety checklist. In addition, specific strategies are needed to improve appropriate use of antibiotic prophylaxis and sustainable implementation of hygiene guidelines to reduce infections.
PMCID: PMC3127749  PMID: 21599915
7.  Direct medical costs of adverse events in Dutch hospitals 
Up to now, costs attributable to adverse events (AEs) and preventable AEs in the Netherlands were unknown. We assessed the total direct medical costs associated with AEs and preventable AEs in Dutch hospitals to gain insight in opportunities for cost savings.
Trained nurses and physicians retrospectively reviewed 7926 patient records in 21 hospitals. Additional patient information of 7889 patients was received from the Dutch registration of hospital information. Direct medical costs attributable to AEs were assessed by measuring excess length of stay and additional medical procedures after an AE occurred. Costs were valued using Dutch standardized cost prices.
The annual direct medical costs in Dutch hospitals were estimated at a total of euro 355 million for all AEs and euro 161 million for preventable AEs in 2004. The total number of hospital admissions in which a preventable AE occurred was 30,000 (2.3% of all admissions) and more than 300,000 (over 3% of all bed days) bed days were attributable to preventable AEs in 2004. Multilevel analysis showed that variance in direct medical costs was not determined by differences between hospitals or hospital departments.
The estimates of the total preventable direct medical costs of AEs indicate that they form a substantial part (1%) of the expenses of the national health care budget and are of importance to hospital management. The cost driver of the direct medical costs is the excess length of stay (including readmissions) in a hospital. Insight in which determinants are associated with high preventable costs will offer useful information for policymakers and hospital management to determine starting points for interventions to reduce the costs of preventable AEs.
PMCID: PMC2645386  PMID: 19203365
8.  Design of a retrospective patient record study on the occurrence of adverse events among patients in Dutch hospitals 
Various international studies have shown that a substantial number of patients suffer from injuries or even die as a result of care delivered in hospitals. The occurrence of injuries among patients caused by health care management in Dutch hospitals has never been studied systematically. Therefore, an epidemiological study was initiated to determine the incidence, type and impact of adverse events among discharged and deceased patients in Dutch hospitals.
Three stage retrospective patient record review study in 21 hospitals of 8400 patient records of discharged or deceased patients in 2004. The records were reviewed by trained nurses and physicians between August 2005 and October 2006. In addition to the determination of presence, the degree of preventability, and causes of adverse events, also location, timing, classification, and most responsible specialty of the adverse events were measured. Moreover, patient and admission characteristics and the quality of the patient records were recorded.
In this paper we report on the design of the retrospective patient record study on the occurrence of adverse events in Dutch hospitals. Attention is paid to the strengths and limitations of the study design. Furthermore, alterations made in the original research protocol in comparison with former international studies are described in detail.
PMCID: PMC1810530  PMID: 17319971

Results 1-8 (8)