Patient safety is an important—but highly complex—issue for health facilities. With numerous patient safety issues to address, establishing clear priorities can be tough. We need only look to recent statistics to see the struggle.Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, and 21% of American adults have personally experienced a medical error. What’s more, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 10 patients in developed countries experience some sort of harm while in the hospital.How can we reduce these numbers?As a starting point, hospitals and health facilities should ensure they have a strong healthcare incident reporting policy in place. Documenting medical incidents that occur among patients, providers, and staff is an integral safety measure that can help eliminate future incidents.As you work toward improving patient safety at your facility, consider the questions (and answers) below.
When should I submit an incident report?
Medical professionals should submit a detailed incident report anytime an unexpected event occurs while on the job. Below are some of the scenarios you may encounter, and they all require an incident report.
- A patient complains about his or her care and/or provider(s).
- You commit or discover a medication error.
- You are injured.
- A patient, visitor, or other staff member is injured.
- A piece of medical equipment malfunctions.
- Someone at your facility is involved in a situation that could have led to injury.
What is the purpose of an incident report?
The overarching purpose of an incident report is to prevent future incidents from occurring. Incident reports should be filled out as soon as possible (before the end of the corresponding shift) so that all pertinent details are captured. Keeping detailed incident reports on file can help do the following:
- Spur administrators to action to correct any major contributing factors.
- Inform risk managers who may need to calm patients and families.
- Jog your memory if a related lawsuit pops up down the road.
What are some examples of incidents that should be reported?
As mentioned previously, you should report any unexpected incident that occurs while you’re on the job. Here are a few specific examples:
- You nick your thumb with a needle as you are starting a patient’s IV.
- A visitor trips over an electrical cord in a patient’s room and bruises her knee.
- A patient falls out of bed and fractures his arm.
- A physician collides with a wheelchair left in the middle of the hallway.
How can I create a productive incident reporting workflow?
HIPAA compliant online forms can help you create a successful incident management process through the following benefits:
- An electronic incident reporting form that can be used to seamlessly document patient complaints and adverse events
- Secure email routing that automatically notifies appropriate personnel when an incident report has been submitted
- An Electronic Signatures feature that allows facility administrators to sign off on incident resolutions
To jumpstart your digital incident reporting process, follow the steps outlined in the infographic below.
Improving incident reporting and other healthcare workflows is key to providing quality patient care. Click here to dive into current healthcare workflow automation trends and their implications.