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Title Voluntary anonymous reporting of medical errors for neonatal intensive care
Author(s) Suresh G, Horbar JD, Plsek P, Gray J, Edwards WH, Shiono PH, Ursprung R, Nickerson J, Lucey JF, Goldmann D.
Source Pediatrics, Vol. 113, No. 6, Pages 1609-1618
Publication Date June 2004
Abstract OBJECTIVES: Medical errors cause significant morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. Specialty-based, voluntary reporting of medical errors by health care providers is an important strategy that may enhance patient safety. We developed a voluntary, anonymous, Internet-based reporting system for medical errors in neonatal intensive care, evaluated its feasibility, and identified errors that affect high-risk neonates and their families. METHODS: Health professionals (n = 739) from 54 hospitals in the Vermont Oxford Network received access to a secure Internet site for anonymous reporting of errors, near-miss errors, and adverse events. Reports used free-text entry in phase 1 (17 months) and a structured form in phase 2 (10 months). The number and types of reported events and factors that contributed to the events were measured. RESULTS: Of 1230 reports--522 in phase 1 (17 months) and 708 in phase 2 (10 months)--the most frequent event categories were wrong medication, dose, schedule, or infusion rate (including nutritional agents and blood products; 47%); error in administration or method of using a treatment (14%); patient misidentification (11%); other system failure (9%); error or delay in diagnosis (7%); and error in the performance of an operation, procedure, or test (4%). The most frequent contributory factors were failure to follow policy or protocol (47%), inattention (27%), communications problem (22%), error in charting or documentation (13%), distraction (12%), inexperience (10%), labeling error (10%), and poor teamwork (9%). In 24 reports, family members assisted in discovery, contributed to the cause, or themselves were victims of the error. Serious patient harm was reported in 2% and minor harm in 25% of phase 2 events. CONCLUSIONS: Specialty-based, voluntary, anonymous Internet reporting by health care professionals identified a broad range of medical errors in neonatal intensive care and promoted multidisciplinary collaborative learning. Similar specialty-based systems have the potential to enhance patient safety in a variety of clinical settings.


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