Article Text

The morbidity and mortality conference as an adverse event surveillance tool in a paediatric intensive care unit
  1. Christina L Cifra1,
  2. Kareen L Jones2,
  3. Judith Ascenzi3,
  4. Utpal S Bhalala2,
  5. Melania M Bembea2,
  6. James C Fackler2,
  7. Marlene R Miller4
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  2. 2Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christina L Cifra, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive 2JCP, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA;


Objective To determine if standardised chart review applied to records of patients discussed at a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) morbidity and mortality conference (MMC) yields additional or different information regarding safety event occurrence and characteristics.

Design Retrospective record review.

Setting Single tertiary referral PICU in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Participants 96 patients discussed at the PICU MMC over 14 months (November 2011–December 2012).

Main outcome measures Safety events and their characteristics (medical error category, severity and preventability).

Results A total of 275 safety events were identified through the MMC and/or chart review. The MMC identified 131 (48%) events, 53 (19%) of which were identified through the MMC alone. After chart review was performed, an additional 144 (52%) events were identified. 78 (28%) events were identified through both. High severity adverse events potentially contributing to permanent harm or death were more likely to be identified through both the MMC and chart review (47%) compared with either alone. The MMC alone identified more near-misses (21%) and preventable events (96%) compared with chart review alone or both MMC and chart review. Although chart review alone helped to identify many healthcare-associated infections, medication errors and sedation/pain control issues not elicited through the MMC, the MMC alone identified more communication errors and workflow problems. The MMC alone also identified 40% of all diagnostic errors, which would not have been discovered otherwise despite chart review by itself identifying 50% of such misdiagnoses.

Conclusions Standardised chart review applied to records of patients discussed at a PICU MMC identified significantly more safety events not initially discovered through the MMC. However, the MMC was superior to chart review in identifying broader problems such as communication errors, workflow issues and certain diagnostic errors not captured by chart review, which can potentially affect many aspects of care.

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