Incident reporting is a powerful source of information. When used effectively, it provides a factual description of an adverse event or near miss that supports learning, safety and improved care quality. Most health care entities utilize an electronic incident reporting system to identify opportunities for improvement.
Health care facility regulation requires tracking of medical errors and adverse events, though it is estimated that only 10 – 20 percent of occurrences are reported. Incident reporting systems are used to gather event information using a structured format. This facilitates analysis of data using metrics such as event type, frequency, severity, location, day, date and time of occurrence in the workplace.
Ten tips for incident reporting
- Report events that are inconsistent with the routine care of a patient or are inconsistent with the usual operations of the health care facility.
- Report events of workplace violence (injury and near miss events).
- Report near miss events for tracking, trending and the opportunity to improve safety/quality before an adverse event reaches a patient, staff member or visitor.
- Complete an incident report if you are the first person/observer on the scene.
- Complete the report close to incident time and preferably before end of the shift.
- Write objectively, providing event facts (e.g., direct observations, actions taken, assistance provided and communication(s) initiated).
- Use quotation marks if it is necessary to include patient / witness accounts in the incident report.
- Avoid assignment of blame, hearsay or assumptions.
- Immediately report significant events of harm directly to your supervisor and to risk management, quality and/or safety personnel as soon as possible after the event and submit an incident report.
- Follow your facility policy / guidelines for filing an incident report.
According to the Joint Commission, nurses submit the highest number of incident reports. This is a testament to your dedication to safe and quality care in the professional practice environment. Keep up the good work and strive to increase incident reporting!