Challenges and Strategies for Patient Safety in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study

Christina T. Yuan, Sydney M. Dy, Alden Yuanhong Lai, Tyler Oberlander, Susan M. Hannum, Elyse C. Lasser, Jaalah Ai Heughan, Vadim Dukhanin, Hadi Kharrazi, Julia M. Kim, Ayse P. Gurses, Mark Bittle, Sarah H. Scholle, Jill A. Marsteller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although most health care occurs in the ambulatory setting, limited research examines how providers and patients think about and enact ambulatory patient safety. This multimethod qualitative study seeks to identify perceived challenges and strategies to improve ambulatory safety from the perspectives of clinicians, staff, and patients. Data included interviews (N = 101), focus groups (N = 65), and observations of safety processes (N = 79) collected from 10 patient-centered medical homes. Key safety issues included the lack of interoperability among health information systems, clinician-patient communication failures, and challenges with medication reconciliation. Commonly cited safety strategies leveraged health information systems or involved dedicated resources (eg, providing access to social workers). Patients also identified strategies not mentioned by clinicians, emphasizing the need for their involvement in developing safety solutions. This work provides insight into safety issues of greatest concern to clinicians, staff, and patients and strategies to improve safety in the ambulatory setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • health care delivery
  • innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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