Intensive care is one of the largest and most expensive components of American health care. Studies suggest that errors and resulting adverse events are common in intensive care units (ICUs). The incidence may be as high as 2 errors per patient per day; 1 in 5 ICU patients may sustain a serious adverse event, and virtually all are exposed to serious risk for harm. Theories of error developed in aviation and other high-risk industries suggest that errors are likely to occur in all complex systems. Reporting of incidents, including both adverse events and near misses, is an essential component for improving safety. Voluntary, confidential reporting is likely to be more important than mandatory reporting. There have been a few efforts to apply such systems in medicine. In intensive care, the Australian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS)-ICU has been the most prominent. We have designed a Web-based ICU Safety Reporting System (ICUSRS). The goal is to identify high-risk situations and working conditions, to help change systems, and reduce the risk for error. The analysis and feedback of reports will inform the design of interventions to improve patient safety. The effort is aided substantially by collaboration with the 30 participating ICUs and important stakeholders including the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the American Society for Health-care Risk Management, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the Foundation for Accountability, and the Leapfrog Group. A demonstration and evaluation of the system is underway, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Re-search and Quality.
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