Send to

Choose Destination
Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019 Jan;45(1):63-69. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 Aug 6.

How Well Do Incident Reporting Systems Work on Inpatient Psychiatric Units?



Adverse events and medical errors have been shown to be a persistent issue in health care. However, little research has been conducted regarding the efficacy of incident reporting systems, particularly within an inpatient psychiatry setting.


The medical records from a random sample of 40 psychiatric units within Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers were screened and evaluated by physicians for 9 types of safety events. The abstracted safety events were then evaluated to assess if they were caused by an error and if they caused harm to the patient. These safety events were then matched to incidents that were reported to the VHA Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), which includes all reported adverse events, close calls, and root cause analyses that occur within the VHA health system.


Overall, 37.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 33.5%-41.5%) of safety events detected in the medical record were reported to the AERS. Among the patient safety events identified, the most commonly reported to the AERS were patient falls (52.3%), assaults (46.2%), and elopements (42.3%). Reporting rates increased when the patient safety event resulted in harm to the patient (48.2%; CI = 41.6%-55.0%).


The majority of patient safety events that occur on VHA inpatient psychiatric units do not get reported to the VHA's Adverse Event Reporting System. These findings suggest that self-reporting is not a reliable method of tracking patient safety events. Future efforts should target the barriers to inpatient psychiatric reporting and develop mechanisms to overcome these barriers.


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center