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Can patients report patient safety incidents in a hospital setting? A systematic review

Abstract

Introduction Patients are increasingly being thought of as central to patient safety. A small but growing body of work suggests that patients may have a role in reporting patient safety problems within a hospital setting. This review considers this disparate body of work, aiming to establish a collective view on hospital-based patient reporting.

Study objectives This review asks: (a) What can patients report? (b) In what settings can they report? (c) At what times have patients been asked to report? (d) How have patients been asked to report?

Method 5 databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, (Kings Fund) HMIC and PsycINFO) were searched for published literature on patient reporting of patient safety ‘problems’ (a number of search terms were utilised) within a hospital setting. In addition, reference lists of all included papers were checked for relevant literature.

Results 13 papers were included within this review. All included papers were quality assessed using a framework for comparing both qualitative and quantitative designs, and reviewed in line with the study objectives.

Discussion Patients are clearly in a position to report on patient safety, but included papers varied considerably in focus, design and analysis, with all papers lacking a theoretical underpinning. In all papers, reports were actively solicited from patients, with no evidence currently supporting spontaneous reporting. The impact of timing upon accuracy of information has yet to be established, and many vulnerable patients are not currently being included in patient reporting studies, potentially introducing bias and underestimating the scale of patient reporting. The future of patient reporting may well be as part of an ‘error detection jigsaw’ used alongside other methods as part of a quality improvement toolkit.

  • Patient involvement
  • patient safety
  • adverse events
  • patient safety incidents
  • incident reporting
  • patient reporting
  • epidemiology and detection
  • medical error
  • measurement/epidemiology
  • near miss

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