Aims: To identify substantive findings of potential clinical and managerial significance from a regional feasibility study of adverse events (AEs).
Methods: A standardised protocol using structured implicit review was applied to 142 AEs generated in an audit study of three public hospitals in the Auckland region for admissions in 1995. Areas of potential significance addressed were: timing, location and impact of AEs; preventability; and clinical context and predictability.
Results: 142 cases were identified as AEs (10.7% of 1,326 screened records). In 102 cases, 7.7% of all screened records, it was considered to be more likely than not that health care management contributed to the AE. About half the reported AEs occurred before the index admission, the majority outside hospital. Over half of all events resulted in disability that was resolved within a month. An average 6.7 extra days stay in hospital were attributable to AEs. For 60% of AEs the evidence for preventability was either low or nonexistent. Areas of potential prevention were predominantly educational. Over half of all AEs occurred in a surgical context. Medical AEs were more likely to have occurred outside hospital, to be drug-related, to be associated with an acute admission, to be classified as highly preventable, and to have a greater impact on hospital stay.
Conclusions: Although the data generated by a feasibility study must be treated with caution, the pattern of results is consistent with comparable Australian findings and is of potential clinical and managerial significance.