Voluntary reporting of medical errors, adverse events and "near misses" using an electronic reporting system yielded wide variation in the rate of reports, and doctors rarely participated, according to a study by researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston. Researchers analyzed 92,547 incident reports at 26 acute-care hospitals from Jan. 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2003.
Hospitals recorded a median of 35 reports per 1,000 patient days, with actual report rates ranging from nine per 1,000 patient days to 95 per 1,000. Registered nurses contributed 47% of reports; pharmacists and pharmacy technicians 16%; laboratory technicians 10%; clerks and secretaries 10%; licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants 3%; and physicians 1.4%. The rest were filed by hospital staff in a variety of positions. Of the 92,547 reported events, 53% reached a patient in some way. Some 67% of those caused no harm, 32% temporary harm, 0.8% permanent or life-threatening harm and 0.4% death. The study will appear in the February Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Read the abstract.