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How will we get the data and what will we do with it then? Issues in the reporting of adverse healthcare events
  1. C W Johnson
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor C W Johnson
 Department of Computing Science, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 9QQ, UK; johnson{at}


Incident reporting has been proposed as an important means of identifying and addressing the causes of human error in medicine, and initiatives to implement these schemes have been set up in many countries. However, incident reporting has its limitations. Many people have been too ready to believe the overstated claims about the effectiveness of incident reporting in other domains. Others have not listened to the more limited claims made by the operators of existing systems in aviation and in organizational health and safety applications. This paper argues that more attention should be paid to the problems of eliciting incident reports from a broad spectrum of healthcare workers. It is also argued that more sophisticated computation support should be recruited so that clinicians do not have to learn complex command languages when they want to search for common factors in those incidents that are submitted.

  • incident reporting
  • medical error
  • patient safety

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