Implementation of a Critical Incident Reporting System in a Neurosurgical Department

German Association of Hospital Pharmacists (ADKA e. V.), Working Group Medication Safety, Berlin, Germany.
Central European neurosurgery (Impact Factor: 0.87). 12/2009; 72(1):15-21. DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1243199
Source: PubMed


Critical incident monitoring is an important tool for quality improvement and the maintenance of high safety standards. It was developed for aviation safety and is now widely accepted as a useful tool to reduce medical care-related morbidity and mortality. Despite this widespread acceptance, the literature has no reports on any neurosurgical applications of critical incident monitoring. We describe the introduction of a mono-institutional critical incident reporting system in a neurosurgical department. Furthermore, we have developed a formula to assess possible counterstrategies.
All staff members of a neurosurgical department were advised to report critical incidents. The anonymous reporting form contained a box for the description of the incident, several multiple-choice questions on specific risk factors, place and reason for occurrence of the incident, severity of the consequences and suggested counterstrategies. The incident data was entered into an online documentation system (ADKA DokuPik) and evaluated by an external specialist. For data analysis we applied a modified assessment scheme initially designed for flight safety.
Data collection was started in September 2008. The average number of reported incidents was 18 per month (currently 216 in total). Most incidents occurred on the neurosurgical ward (64%). Human error was involved in 86% of the reported incidents. The largest group of incidents consisted of medication-related problems. Accordingly, counterstrategies were developed, resulting in a decrease in the relative number of reported medication-related incidents from 42% (March 09) to 30% (September 09).
Implementation of the critical incident reporting system presented no technical problems. The reporting rate was high compared to that reported in the current literature. The formulation, evaluation and introduction of specific counterstrategies to guard against selected groups of incidents may improve patient safety in neurosurgical departments.

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