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Healthcare Incident Reporting is Down…Is Your Reporting Tool Too Challenging?

Heather Annolino

During the COVID-19 crisis, many of our healthcare clients have seen a significant reduction in incident reporting. Several factors may explain this recent decrease, including:

  1. Personnel may not understand what could be or is considered an event within the realm of COVID-19 because their main focus is treating and caring for those patients infected by the virus.
  2. Staff are overwhelmed by the intensity of the current environment within their organization, and simply not as aware of patient safety/risk events such as issues with equipment or PPE.
  3. Unintentionally, staff may see a patient safety/risk event – especially those with no or little injury – as being 'not as important' at the moment.
  4. New procedures and information are changing day-by-day to provide states and healthcare systems temporary relief from many reporting and audit requirements, to ensure personnel can focus on patient care over tedious paperwork. This mindset might have even set in for incident reporting.
  5. Need for more emphasis from senior team members on the importance of incident reporting during this current crisis.
  6. It is possible many events related to COVID-19 patients are being captured elsewhere, and not being reported to risk management/patient safety.

After years of working hard to increase the volume of reported events to improve patient safety/risk management, it might simply be that the recent decrease of reporting can be explained by the loss in patient volume due to the lack of services such as elective surgeries.

If your organization has noticed a reporting change, I suggest gathering senior and middle level managers to get their thoughts regarding potential contributing factors. It may be that the team feels time is better spent elsewhere rather than incident reporting, or as mentioned earlier the change may be due to the lack of patient volume during this crisis. If incident reporting is too challenging during this time, there are several ways to make it easier for the front-line reporter to ensure your hospital is continuing to improve its overall patient safety during this and future crisis.

Here are a few of my top suggestions:

  • Decrease the number of required fields to fill in such as the number of questions per each event type, harm scale or interventions put in place following the event.
  • Add additional drop-down options or picklists to make it faster and easier to fill out the report. Be sure to include a COVID-19 option to help categorize the event during analysis. For example -a medication event is a medication event, but if it occurred while treating a COVID-19 patient there might be some underlying patterns specific to managing during this pandemic that should be reviewed later.
  • Encourage staff that it is an acceptable alternative for reporting to pick up the phone and call risk and/or patient safety to report an event, that way they can enter-in the event. Be sure to still make the time to provide feedback after the reporting of incidents, as this will serve as a reminder to staff of the importance of the information and will assist with improving reporting efforts.
  • Utilize a centralized event reporting and investigation tool such as the Ventiv’s Patient Safety tool.

The Ventiv Patient Safety event reporting and investigation tools make it fast and easy to report incidents, while empowering healthcare organizations to better understand safety events, improve the patient experience, and elevate the facility’s safety culture.

What steps have you taken to improve your organizations patient safety culture during this pandemic? We would love to hear from you to learn about the additional ways you have made incident reporting easier over the past few months.

A Buyer's Guide to Patient Safety and Integrated Risk Management Systems Download

May 19, 2020

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