Healthcare News & Insights

Removing blame increases error reporting

New research indicates that certain ways of tracking medical error reports are more successful at encouraging people to make reports.

Primarily, systems that protect anonymous reporting and don’t emphasize assigning blame for the error get more reports than more traditional reporting systems. That’s the takeaway from a recent report in the journal Pediatrics.

After instituting a new system at a pediatric clinic in North Carolina, the number of mistakes reported increased from an average of five per year to 86.

Under the clinic’s old system, reports weren’t anonymous and frequently led to punishment of some sort for those involved in the error. With the new system, employees were able to report anonymously, and punishments weren’t attached to the error reports. Employees from all areas of the practice were put on a safety team to review reports once a month and find solutions to the reduce the likelihood of a similar mistake happening again.

The most common mistake by far was incorrect data being entered into a patient record, followed by delayed or forgotten lab work and medication errors. About 75% of the mistake reports were addressed by the team with simple procedural changes and staff training.

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