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Evaluation of an intervention aimed at improving voluntary incident reporting in hospitals
  1. Sue M Evans1,
  2. Brian J Smith1,
  3. Adrian Esterman3,
  4. William B Runciman1,
  5. Guy Maddern1,
  6. Karen Stead2,
  7. Pam Selim2,
  8. Jane O’Shaughnessy2,
  9. Sandy Muecke2,
  10. Sue Jones2
  1. 1Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2Clinical Epidemiology and Health Outcomes Unit, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. 3University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S M Evans
 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, PO Box 6103, Vermont South, Melbourne 3133, Victoria, Australia; sue.evans{at}


Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of an intervention package comprising intense education, a range of reporting options, changes in report management and enhanced feedback, in order to improve incident-reporting rates and change the types of incidents reported.

Design, setting and participants: Non-equivalent group controlled clinical trial involving medical and nursing staff working in 10 intervention and 10 control units in four major cities and two regional hospitals in South Australia.

Main outcome measures: Comparison of reporting rates by type of unit, profession, location of hospital, type of incident reported and reporting mechanism between baseline and study periods in control and intervention units.

Results: The intervention resulted in significant improvement in reporting in inpatient areas (additional 60.3 reports/10 000 occupied bed days (OBDs); 95% CI 23.8 to 96.8, p<0.001) and in emergency departments (EDs) (additional 39.5 reports/10 000 ED attendances; 95% CI 17.0 to 62.0, p<0.001). More reports were generated (a) by doctors in EDs (additional 9.5 reports/10 000 ED attendances; 95% CI 2.2 to 16.8, p = 0.001); (b) by nurses in inpatient areas (additional 59.0 reports/10 000 OBDs; 95% CI 23.9 to 94.1, p<0.001) and (c) anonymously (additional 20.2 reports/10 000 OBDs and ED attendances combined; 95% CI 12.6 to 27.8, p<0.001). Compared with control units, the study resulted in more documentation, clinical management and aggression-related incidents in intervention units. In intervention units, more reports were submitted on one-page forms than via the call centre (1005 vs 264 reports, respectively).

Conclusions: A greater variety and number of incidents were reported by the intervention units during the study, with improved reporting by doctors from a low baseline. However, there was considerable heterogeneity between reporting rates in different types of units.

  • ED, emergency department
  • GP, general practitioner
  • ICU, intensive care unit
  • OBD, occupied bed day
  • RCA, root cause analysis

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • No reprints will be available.