UC Davis Health patient safety experts offer primer to prevent COVID-19 diagnostic error


Like so many people in health care, Patrick Romano and Debra Bakerjian of UC Davis Health have dramatic new demands on them because of COVID-19. In their case, some of those demands come from around the country.

Debra Bakerjian and Patrick Romano sort through COVID-19 patient safety information from around the world as co-editors-in-chief of PSNet.
Debra Bakerjian and Patrick Romano sort through COVID-19 patient safety information from around the world as co-editors-in-chief of PSNet.

They have been co-editors-in-chief of a nationally and globally recognized resource on patient safety called PSNet – the Patient Safety Network – since October 2019. Their work has been important in the battle against COVID-19.

“This is a federal website established for rapidly disseminating information about patient safety to clinicians and other stakeholders,” Romano said. “As you can imagine, there has been a high demand for information about COVID-19.”

Their most recent efforts include a primer on the coronavirus and diagnostic error. The primer points out the importance of the subject: Delayed diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment or preventable transmission of COVID-19. Just as importantly, other treatable health issues can be missed when the focus is narrowed to COVID-19.

“We found this was an issue that was front and center for many clinicians,” Romano said.

Romano is a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and a researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research. He is widely known as an expert on developing measures to accurately assess health care quality and safety.

Bakerjian is a clinical professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. She focuses on patient safety and quality improvement in long-term care, interprofessional education and collaborative practice in primary care.

They use their expertise to monitor everything from peer-reviewed journals and research literature to newspapers and periodicals to collect and curate the latest information on patient safety for PSNet. They also coordinate original content, commentaries and perspectives.

Other recent COVID-19-related primers include “Team and Human Factors to Improve Safety” and “COVID-19 and Safety of Older Adults.”

“A tremendous amount of information came out very quickly,” Romano said. “Much of it was from China, a little from Italy. In the early stages, very little was peer reviewed. It was hard for clinicians to process all of that and to see how much applied to the U.S. That was where we could help.”

PSNet is a project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. PSNet’s focus is on reaching health care audiences in the U.S., but it is regarded worldwide as an authoritative resource for evidence-based practices that can improve patient safety.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, PSNet has also been a valuable tool for sorting through the waves of information – some of it incomplete – that can make it hard for busy clinicians, health academics and others to digest or to see a full picture of a subject.

“As we hear stories from the field, we try to bring the best people together to offer perspective,” Romano said. “Fortunately, we have some of the best people at UC Davis Health.”