Table A1 Description of feedback processes from 23 exemplar healthcare reporting systems
Reporting systemHealthcare domainDescription of information/action feedback mechanisms and associated processes
Ahluwalia and Marriott (2005) Critical Incident Reporting System18Neonatal Department (UK)
  • Regular multidisciplinary departmental meetings to discuss lessons learnt from reporting

  • Regular monthly department safety bulletin that includes a fixed reminder of the unit’s agreed trigger list, summary of previous month’s critical incident reports, data on admissions and activity levels and a clinical lesson or guideline of the month

  • Individual email bulletins, paper-based newsletters or bulletins posted on department website

  • Targeted campaigns aimed at a specific incident or pattern of incidents

  • Investigation of reported incidents and identified safety issues through Root Cause Analysis (retrospective) and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (prospective) methods to identify system failures for remedial action

Amoore and Ingram (2002) Feedback notes for incidents involving medical devices47Medical equipment management in a NHS Trust (UK)
  • Feedback notes system developed as an educational tool to provide information on incident, equipment involved, causes and triggers uncovered by investigation, lessons learnt and positive actions taken by staff to minimise adverse consequences

  • Feedback notes highlight positive actions taken by staff and provide anonymous information that allows staff to learn from why an incident occurred, in a supportive manner, while promoting a culture that supports learning

  • Feedback notes issued to ward link nurses, used in teaching sessions and information disseminated to other hospital departments through annual nurse clinical update sessions and hospital intranet

Beasley et al. (2004) Primary care medical error reporting system20Wisconsin Primary care (US)
  • Report submitters, upon reporting to the system, receive reminders, composite data or commentary to encourage a two-way flow of information

  • Weekly or monthly newsletters that identify recent errors, their associated hazards and hazard control strategies

  • Presentation of aggregated error data to clinic administrators and care givers so that they can implement useful error or hazard prevention strategies

  • Educational information provided to patients so that they understand their role in helping to prevent errors

Bolsin (2005) and Bolsin et al. (2005) PDA-based Clinician-led reporting system49 50Anaesthesiology Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists ANZCA (Australia)
  • Automatic feedback of all reported incidents to local organisational quality managers and morbidity and mortality coordinators

  • Automated analysis and secure transmission of performance data back to reporting clinician, who has personal access to tracked data

  • Professional groups, colleges and specialist associations can apply for access to data at suitable levels of aggregation for use in monitoring training performance, for example

Gandhi et al. (2005) Safety Reporting System7Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston (US)
  • Feedback of issue progress by email to individual reporter and direct feedback of follow-up actions taken to original reporter to “close the loop”

  • Monthly article in staff bulletin to highlight safety issues

  • Safety improvements published quarterly in hospital newsletter

  • Monthly email circulated to front-line staff (anyone that reported) with summary of improvements made

  • Weekly reports of overdue follow-up on safety reports for nurse senior directors

  • Monthly patient safety leadership walkround visits

  • Quarterly report to higher levels of organisation including summary of actions taken to hospital leadership

  • Production of safety improvement actions and recommendations for follow-up, including prioritisation of opportunities and actions, assigning responsibility and accountability, and implementing the action plan

Holzmueller et al. (2005), Lubomski et al. (2004) & Wu et al. (2002) Intensive Care Unit Safety Reporting System (ICUSRS)51 52 60Hospital intensive care units—reporting centre at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (US)
  • Monthly report sent to each participating ICU including quantitative data concerning the number of reports submitted in previous month compared with past year and individualised site data compared with data from across all study sites

  • Monthly feedback is used by ICU site team to identify local areas for improvement and each site receives text descriptions and system factors for all the incidents reported at the site, plus data on total events to date, types of events reported and types of providers reporting for use at morbidity and mortality conferences, patient safety committees, hospital risk-management and hospital quality-improvement processes

  • Principal investigators at each site have the capability to access and query data submitted from their site for local analysis and to generate reports for use in quality-improvement activities using data analysis wizard

  • Information sharing with front-line staff is promoted through use of staff bulletin board postings which accompany each monthly newsletter and which contain a summary of a safety issue raised, textual case examples, system failures identified and specific actions that may be taken to address them

  • Quarterly newsletter is distributed to staff at all study sites containing details of the project’s activities, focuses upon a common safety problem each issue and includes tips for improving safety in order to encourage learning across institutions

Joshi et al. (2002) Web-based incident reporting and analysis system21Baylor Healthcare System: Dallas, Texas (US)
  • Systems solutions and improvements developed in a timely and efficient manner to address process and systems gaps identified through analysis of how, when, why and where incidents occurred

  • Follow-up actions are tracked by the IT system, which streamlines the data-management and risk-identification process allowing more time for the design and implementation of improvement initiatives

  • User-controllable ad hoc querying of incident database and generation of reports

  • Educational feedback to enhance safety awareness through use of case studies outlining hospital-system successes and failures

  • Continuous communication with hospital staff through regular newsletters and department meetings to communicate patient safety data and what was being done with the data

  • Feedback of aggregate data to staff as well as specific case follow-up

Le Duff et al. (2005) Incident Monitoring and Quality Improvement Process22Rennes Hospital, Brittany—Department of Radiology and Medical Imagery (France)
  • Mechanisms for quality managers to validate reports and to track the completion of specific actions associated with a validated issue are built into the IT system that handles the report

  • Incidents and successful actions taken to resolve them are archived within the database

  • Time taken to resolve outstanding quality issues is used as a metric to indicate level of risk to the organisation

Nakajima et al. (2005) & Takeda et al. (2003) Web-based/on-line incident reporting system53 58Osaka University Hospital (Japan)
  • Implementation of urgent improvement actions for high risk issues within a predetermined timescale

  • Patient safety seminars three times a year to inform all staff of findings from reporting systems and support a hospital-wide safety culture

  • Targeted staff education programmes linked to professional accreditation scheme

  • Ward rounds by peers and safety committee members to check safety improvements have been implemented

  • Safety-feedback information is made available to staff through hospital intranet, clinical risk manager’s monthly meetings (cascade) and mailing list

  • Paper-based and web-based newsletter alerts with topics chosen to coincide with media coverage of serious events, and content includes commentary by hospital experts on specific issues

Oulton (1981) Incident reporting system54Virginia Hospitals Insurance Reciprocal (US)
  • Data from incident reports are used to investigate specific incidents in individual hospitals and contribute to summary profiles of types of incidents that take place across all institutions

  • Benchmark data relating to frequency of incident types occurring are produced for comparison across institutions of similar bed size and comparison against system-wide averages to help identify problem areas

  • Incident reports are reviewed by hospital risk manager and administrator in charge of the unit, who can take immediate action

  • Incident reports are also passed to safety and quality-assurance committee for in-depth analysis and corrective action against safety problems, including the development of guidelines for hospital practice and governing the use of equipment, as well as nursing policy and changes to the equipment used in certain procedures

  • Assessment and monitoring of the effectiveness of corrective measures are undertaken and the safety process reviewed where there is evidence of repeated incidents

  • Further investigations of specific problem areas (identified through above average incident rates) are undertaken in specific institutions

  • Quarterly incident report summary generated for all participating hospitals

Parke (2003) Critical Incident Reporting System55General Intensive Care Unit, Reading (UK)
  • System owner within hospital department screens received incident reports regularly to identify those requiring immediate action

  • Safety actions are discussed at monthly multidisciplinary clinical governance meetings

  • Monthly newsletter details all the incidents of the month, by category, in abbreviated narrative form

  • Extended, annual presentation regarding operation of the reporting system and reported incidents is made to the local anaesthetic department

Peshek et al. (2004) Voice-mail-based medication error reporting system23Summa Health System, Akron: Ohio (Medication administration) (US)
  • Disciplinary action and mandatory re-education undertaken where considered necessary in accordance with a fair policy to ensure required standards of compliance and competence

  • Summary reports of reported errors with causes presented to all department managers and at unit meetings as an educational tool

  • Medication safety coordinators discuss implications for improving safety with individual departments on a weekly basis, and ad hoc work groups are formed to troubleshoot problems

  • Local on-site managers take immediate action to ensure patient safety and notify department/unit management and risk-management upon occurrence of incidents that resulted in actual harm

  • Specific follow-up process and actions implemented according to incident policy and severity classification scheme linked to specific levels of action

  • Information from reported errors is used to implement improvements in the medication administration process, to support pharmacist education programmes and to support inclusion of safe practices in the design of new computerised physician order entry systems

Piotrowski et al. (2002) Safety Case Management Committee process56Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System (US)
  • Recommendations for monitoring new systems or processes to ensure that, once implemented, they continue to be effective

  • Safety case management committee disseminates lessons learnt documents and action plans to higher-level authorising bodies (clinical executive board), a performance improvement committee and various other clinical committees and specialist bodies

  • Changes implemented in clinical systems, processes or policy revisions

  • Patient or clinician education campaigns

  • Monitoring of clinical systems or processes

  • Clinical communications produced

  • Staffing adjustment or supervision

Poniatowski et al. (2005) Patient Safety Net (PSN) occurrence reporting system24University Health System Consortium (UHC) with over 90 members (US)
  • Direct action taken by nursing managers to ensure rapid patient safety improvement in response to reported issues

  • On-line event reporting tool allows nurses to share experiences of how they have improved patient safety in their units based upon directly actionable data provided by reporting system, ensuring widespread improvements across individual organisations

  • Nurse managers receive immediate, real-time notification of safety events on their units

  • Managers can run their own local-incident trend analysis reports

Runciman et al. (2002), Beckmann et al. (1996) & Yong and Kluger (2003) Australian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS) and associated patient safety initiatives25 48 61Initially anaesthesia followed by all other specialty areas and hospital systems (Australia)
  • Identification of problems and contributory factors through incident monitoring for further investigation towards development and implementation of appropriate interventions to improve quality of care

  • Preventive strategies devised on the basis of potential severity of impact and frequency of occurrence of contributory factors, as well as follow-up risk–benefit analysis to justify the resources used

  • Analysis of 2000 reported incidents in anaesthesia were published in 30 articles by 1992

  • Development of national standards and guidelines governing aspects of clinical practice, including equipment use and further monitoring of specific issues

  • Use of reported incident data to clarify and support problems identified with clinical equipment, leading to recall and modification of affected devices

  • De-identified data comparable across institutions and units

  • AIMS 2 web system employs cue-based retrieval that allows the user to rapidly retrieve a broad range of relevant incident reports

  • Newsletters, publications and advice at national level, feedback of improvement actions and evidence of action occurs at local level

Schaubhut and Jones (2000) Medication Error Reporting system26East Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Louisiana. Nursing Medication Administration Processes (US)
  • Brief summary information sheet “Hot Spots” is produced each month for nursing units containing information on trends in incident data along with opportunities for improvement

  • Improvement of medication administration policies to reduce causes of error undertaken based upon issues raised through reporting system

  • Immediate response to occurrence of a medication administration incident, when required

  • Mandatory medication error education programme was implemented for nursing and medical staff using examples of different incident types reported to hospital system

  • Personal study modules with written tests on local medication administration procedures are given in cases where training needs are identified from incidents

Schneider and Hartwig (1994) Severity-indexed medication error reporting system27Ohio State University Medical Centre—Medication errors (pharmacy) (US)
  • Monthly reports from the incident database are generated to help identify problem areas according to severity-rated reports and categorisation according to unit of origin, error type, system breakdown and drug category

  • Various forums and committees are responsible for reviewing medication error data to identify opportunities for improving patient care both within and across departments, including a quality-assurance committee which produces recommendations for physician’s practice, a pharmacy committee that addresses hospital-wide medications policy and a medication-error task force for specific issues

  • Interventions are implemented on the basis of quality-improvement opportunities identified by the committees

Silver (1999) Incident Review Management Process57All areas (US)
  • Disciplinary action taken against staff, where necessary, including: termination, counselling, suspension or written reprimand

  • Staff safety issues are resolved through training or changes in shifts, tasks or assignments

  • Where clinical interventions are required, system changes include: development of behaviour change plans, new goal determinations or medications review

  • Facility repairs or restructuring is undertaken in response to reported health and safety issues relating to building maintenance and design

  • Actions for operations management include protocol changes, new monitoring forms and new committee formation

  • Further monitoring/baseline data gathering to support systems improvement decisions

  • Communication reports are circulated immediately following an incident to notify all relevant departments of the basic details of the event and the corrective actions that have been taken

Suresh et al. (2004) Medical error reporting system28Neonatal Intensive Care—Vermont Oxford Network (US)
  • Specialty-based centralised incident reporting, analysis and feedback processes to promote multidisciplinary, multi-institutional collaborative learning using data to support systems improvement

  • Periodic structured feedback of collected errors to participating institutions and through biannual meetings

  • Data fed into numerous local patient safety improvement projects

  • Multidisciplinary teams prepared poster presentations using case studies of patient safety issues within their units for sharing at collaborative meetings

Tighe et al. (2006) Incident Reporting System19London Accident and Emergency Department Incident Reporting System (UK)
  • Monthly interrogation of trust incident database and report sent to A&E clinical risk-management committee, which discusses reported incidents once a month and assigns actions

  • Immediate response made to serious untoward incidents which are also escalated for review in a separate process at A&E risk-management meeting

  • Newsletters are circulated to staff including summary of learning points and highlighting new policies introduced as a result of safety issue analysis

Webster and Anderson (2002) Ward medication error reporting scheme29Hospital ward medicine administration (New Zealand)
  • Systems improvements including changes to working practices and equipment use implemented based upon cluster analysis of reported incidents

Westfall et al. (2004) Web-based patient safety reporting system30Ambulatory primary care for rural and frontier communities (US)
  • Educational feedback to rural primary-care practices based upon collection and analysis of medical-error data

  • Implementation of interventions to improve patient safety: Principles for Process Improvement were developed for each identified safety area and focused upon processes which were amenable to assessment and improvement

  • Follow-up interviews scheduled with reporting staff, where necessary, to elicit further information

  • Clinical steering group met in order to review data, direct additional study and create policy. Learning groups set up, comprising personnel from practices and project staff, in order to develop recommendations to tackle specific safety issues identified through reporting system data

  • For serious threats to patient safety, electronic and hard copy “alerts” were issued to all participants, briefly describing the event and recommendations developed to reduce the potential for that type of event

  • Periodic newsletter issued to practices

  • Practice-specific (individualised) recommendations were made for specific patient safety issues

Wilf-Miron et al. (2003) Incident Reporting System59Maccabi Healthcare Services—Ambulatory care service organisation (Israel)
  • Telephone hotline for reporting incidents and near misses, providing real-time dialogue with reporter to provide support, elaborate upon reported information and provide incident debriefing by professionals to ensure lessons are learnt on an individual level

  • Targeted training programmes implemented on the basis of analysis of single and multiple events

  • Alteration of working practices and introduction of error reducing measures to ensure organisational learning based upon investigation of single incidents and analysis of data from multiple incidents

  • Manual on error prevention using practical examples of clinical adverse events