Flemens, W.W., & McRae, G. (2012). Reporting, Learning and the Culture of Safety. Healthcare Quarterly, 15 Retrieved from www.longwoods.com/content/22847.
“Systems that provide healthcare workers with the opportunity to report hazards, hazardous situations, errors, close calls and adverse events make it possible for an organization that receives such reports to use these opportunities to learn and/or hold people accountable for their actions. When organizational learning is the primary goal, reporting should be confidential, voluntary and easy to perform and should lead to risk mitigation strategies following appropriate analysis; conversely, when the goal is accountability, reporting is more likely to be made mandatory. Reporting systems do not necessarily equate to safer patient care and have been criticized for capturing too many mundane events but only a small minority of important events. Reporting has been inappropriately equated with patient safety activity and mistakenly used for “measuring” system safety. However, if properly designed and supported, a reporting system can be an important component of an organizational strategy to foster a safety culture.
Healthcare is not as safe as it should or could be: rates of adverse events, defined as situations where patients suffer harm from the healthcare they receive (or not receiving care that would have helped), in acute care have been shown to be high. For example, the Canadian Adverse Events Study found that 7.5% of patients admitted to a Canadian hospital suffered an adverse event (Baker et al. 2004). The National Steering Committee on Patient Safety listed the comprehensive identification and the reporting of hazards as one of “nine key principles for action” that served as a foundation for the committee’s recommendations to make Canadian patients safer (National Steering Committee on Patient Safety 2002). Further, the committee recommended the adoption of non-punitive reporting policies within a quality improvement framework. Recently, the National System for Incident Reporting (Canadian Institute for Health Information 2011) was established by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, whose focus at the present time is incidents regarding hospital-based medication and intravenous fluids. The development of reporting systems to enhance patient safety has been proposed as a strategy in other countries; examples include the Australian Incident Monitoring System (Runciman 2002) and the National Reporting and Learning System in England and Wales (Williams and Osborn 2006).”