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BMJ Qual Improv Rep. 2014 Nov 3;3(1). pii: u202381.w2481. doi: 10.1136/bmjquality.u202381.w2481. eCollection 2014.

Improving incident reporting among junior doctors.

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Royal United Hospital Bath, UK.


To ensure systems in hospitals improve to make patient care safer, learning must occur when things go wrong. Incident reporting is one of the commonest mechanisms used to learn from harm events and near misses. Only a relatively small number of incidents that occur are actually reported and different groups of staff have different rates of reporting. Nationally, junior doctors are low reporters of incidents, a finding supported by our local data. We set out to explore the culture and awareness around incident reporting among our junior doctors, and to improve the incident reporting rate within this important staff group. In order to achieve this we undertook a number of work programmes focused on junior doctors, including: assessment of their knowledge, confidence and understanding of incident reporting, education on how and why to report incidents with a focus on reporting on clinical themes during a specific time period, and evaluation of the experience of those doctors who reported incidents. Junior doctors were asked to focus on incident reporting during a one week period. Before and after this focussed week, they were invited to complete a questionnaire exploring their confidence about what an incident was and how to report. Prior to "Incident Reporting Week", on average only two reports were submitted a month by junior doctors compared with an average of 15 per month following the education and awareness week. This project highlights the fact that using a focussed reporting period and/or specific clinical themes as an education tool can benefit a hospital by promoting awareness of incidents and by increasing incident reporting rates. This can only assist in improving hospital systems, and ultimately increase patient safety.

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