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Prevalence of adverse events in the hospitals of five Latin American countries: results of the ‘Iberoamerican study of adverse events’ (IBEAS)
  1. J M Aranaz-Andrés1,2,
  2. C Aibar-Remón3,4,
  3. R Limón-Ramírez1,2,
  4. A Amarilla5,
  5. F R Restrepo6,
  6. O Urroz7,
  7. O Sarabia8,
  8. L V García-Corcuera9,
  9. E Terol-García10,
  10. Y Agra-Varela10,
  11. J Gonseth-García11,
  12. D W Bates12,13,
  13. I Larizgoitia14 on behalf of the IBEAS team
  1. 1 Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Department of Preventive Medicine, Sant Joan d'Alacant University Hospital, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche, Spain
  2. 2Department of Public Health, History of Science and Gynaecology, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche, Spain
  3. 3Department of Preventive Medicine Unit, Lozano Blesa University Clinical Hospital, Zaragoza University, Zaragoza, Spain
  4. 4Department of Microbiology, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Zaragoza University, Zaragoza, Spain
  5. 5National coordinator for the study in Argentina, Ministry of Health, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  6. 6National coordinator for the study in Colombia, Ministry of Social Care, Bogotá, Colombia
  7. 7National coordinator for the study in Costa Rica, Ministry of Health, San José, Costa Rica
  8. 8National coordinator for the study in Mexico, Ministry of Health, México DF, México
  9. 9National coordinator for the study in Peru, Ministry of Health, Lima, Perú
  10. 10National Health System Quality Agency, Ministry of Health and Social Policy, Madrid, Spain
  11. 11Patient Safety, Pan American Health Organization, Washington DC, USA
  12. 12Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Maryland, USA
  13. 13External Research Lead World Alliance for Patient Safety, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland
  14. 14WHO, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to J M Aranaz Andrés, Department of Public Health, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Campus de San Juan, Carretera Alicante-Valencia Km. 87, 03550 San Juan de Alicante; aranaz_jes{at}


Background Interest in patient safety (PS) is growing exponentially, fuelled by epidemiological research unveiling the extent of unsafe care. However, there is little information about the frequency of harm in developing and transitional countries. To address this issue, the authors performed a study known as the Iberoamerican Adverse Event Study, through a collaborative between the governments of Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality, the Pan American Health Organization and the WHO Patient Safety.

Methods The study used a cross-sectional design, involving 58 hospitals in the five Latin American countries, to measure the point prevalence of patients presenting an adverse event (AE) on the day of observation. All inpatients at the time of the study were included.

Results A total of 11 379 inpatients were surveyed. Of these, 1191 had at least one AE that the reviewer judged to be related to the care received rather than to the underlying conditions. The estimated point prevalence rate was 10.5% (95% CI 9.91 to 11.04), with more than 28% of AE causing disability and another 6% associated with the death of the patient. Almost 60% of AE were considered preventable.

Conclusions The high rate of prevalent AE found suggests that PS may represent an important public-health issue in the participating hospitals. While new studies may be needed to confirm these results, these may already be useful to inspire new PS-improvement policies in those settings.

  • Adverse event
  • patient safety
  • research

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  • Funding JMAA, CAR and RLR have been granted in some occasions by the Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (Health Research Fund) related to the Spanish Ministry of Health Social Policy and by the National Health System Quality Agency of the Spanish Ministry of Health and Social Policy.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Pan American Health Organization Ethics Review Committee and the corresponding national ethics committees of the participating countries.

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