Introduction: Medical errors are frequently under-reported, yet their appropriate analysis, coupled with remediation, is essential for continuous quality improvement. The emergency department (ED) is recognized as a complex and chaotic environment prone to errors. In this paper, we describe the design and implementation of a web-based ED-specific incident reporting system using an iterative process.
Methods: A web-based, password-protected tool was developed by members of a quality assurance committee for ED providers to report incidents that they believe could impact patient safety.
Results: The utilization of this system in one residency program with two academic sites resulted in an increase from 81 reported incidents in 2009, the first year of use, to 561 reported incidents in 2012. This is an increase in rate of reported events from 0.07% of all ED visits to 0.44% of all ED visits. In 2012, faculty reported 60% of all incidents, while residents and midlevel providers reported 24% and 16% respectively. The most commonly reported incidents were delays in care and management concerns.
Conclusion: Error reporting frequency can be dramatically improved by using a web-based, user-friendly, voluntary, and non-punitive reporting system.