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Large-scale deployment of the Global Trigger Tool across a large hospital system: refinements for the characterisation of adverse events to support patient safety learning opportunities
  1. V S Good,
  2. M Saldaña,
  3. R Gilder,
  4. D Nicewander,
  5. D A Kennerly
  1. Baylor Health Care System Office of Patient Safety, Dallas, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Donald A. Kennerly, Baylor Health Care System, Office of Patient Safety, 8080 North Central Expressway, Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75206, USA; donaldk{at}


Background The Institute for Healthcare Improvement encourages use of the Global Trigger Tool to objectively determine and monitor adverse events (AEs).

Setting Baylor Health Care System (BHCS) is an integrated healthcare delivery system in North Texas. The Global Trigger Tool was applied to BHCS's eight general acute care hospitals, two inpatient cardiovascular hospitals and two rehabilitation/long-term acute care hospitals.

Strategy Data were collected from a monthly random sample of charts for each facility for patients discharged between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007 by external professional nurse auditors using an MS Access Tool developed for this initiative. In addition to the data elements recommended by Institute for Healthcare Improvement, BHCS developed fields to permit further characterisation of AEs to identify learning opportunities. A structured narrative description of each identified AE facilitated text mining to further characterise AEs.

Initial findings Based on this sample, AE rates were found to be 68.1 per 1000 patient days, or 50.8 per 100 encounters, and 39.8% of admissions were found to have ≥1 AE. Of all AEs identified, 61.2% were hospital-acquired, 10.1% of which were associated with a National Coordinating Council – Medical Error Reporting and Prevention harm score of “H or I” (near death or death).

Future Direction To enhance learning opportunities and guide quality improvement, BHCS collected data—such as preventability and AE source—to characterise the nature of AEs. Data are provided regularly to hospital teams to direct quality initiatives, moving from a general focus on reducing AEs to more specific programmes based on patterns of harm and preventability.

  • Global Trigger Tool
  • patient safety
  • adverse events

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  • Funding This work was paid for through the Baylor Health Care System operational funds.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.