Reporting errors leads to workflow improvements

Reporting adverse events positively influences the perception of safety and may reduce medical errors in large, multi-site health systems, according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

A year after the radiation oncology department implemented a conditions reporting system, researchers noted staff respondents said there were improvements in 11 of 13 categories regarding a safe and open environment. Moreover, the error reporting allowed the department to refine safety measures.

"What we've learned from reporting events has already led to a number of changes to departmental policies, procedures and workflow," Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, said yesterday in a statement.

"Ultimately, by reporting and investigating incidents, our faculty and staff are more confident in the care they provide, and we're better able to identify any holes in our processes," he said.

Despite reporting systems, some healthcare providers still hold back from reporting patient safety problems, fearing retaliation and intimidation, according to an October report from the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ). The report recommended hospitals focus on helping clinicians understand their responsibility for quality and safety.

In another threat to better incident reporting, two lower court rulings in Kentucky could undermine protected patient safety information and error reporting intended under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, according to the national American Hospital Association and Kentucky Hospital Association, while filed amicus briefs this month with the state Supreme Court.

For more:
- here's the research announcement