Patient safety incidents in hospice care: Observations from interdisciplinary case conferences

Debra Parker Oliver, George Demiris, Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles, Ashley Gage, Mariah L. Dewsnap-Dreisinger, Jamie Luetkemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: In the home hospice environment, issues arise every day presenting challenges to the safety, care, and quality of the dying experience. The literature pertaining to the safety challenges in this environment is limited. Aim: The study explored two research questions; 1) What types of patient safety incidents occur in the home hospice setting? 2) How many of these incidents are recognized by the hospice staff and/or the patient or caregiver as a patient safety incident? Design and Methods: Video-recordings of hospice interdisciplinary team case conferences were reviewed and coded for patient safety incidents. Patient safety incidents were defined as any event or circumstance that could have resulted or did result in unnecessary harm to the patient or caregiver, or that could have resulted or did result in a negative impact on the quality of the dying experience for the patient. Codes for categories of patient safety incidents were based on the International Classification for Patient Safety. Setting/Participants: The setting for the study included two rural hospice programs in one Midwestern state in the United States. One hospice team had two separately functioning teams, the second hospice had three teams. Results: 54 video-recordings were reviewed and coded. Patient safety incidents were identified that involved issues in clinical process, medications, falls, family or caregiving, procedural problems, documentation, psychosocial issues, administrative challenges and accidents. Conclusion: This study distinguishes categories of patient safety events that occur in home hospice care. Although the scope and definition of potential patient safety incidents in hospice is unique, the events observed in this study are similar to those observed with in other settings. This study identifies an operating definition and a potential classification for further research on patient safety incidents in hospice. Further research and consensus building of the definition of patient safety incidents and patient safety incidents in this setting is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1561-1567
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


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