Closing the loop: follow-up and feedback in a patient safety program

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2005 Nov;31(11):614-21. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(05)31079-8.


Background: As health care organizations establish patient safety agendas, attention has focused on creating less cumbersome systems for reporting errors. However, experience at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston) suggests that more emphasis needs to be placed on what happens after a report is submitted. FOLLOW-UP AND FEEDBACK: Follow-up includes prioritizing opportunities and actions, assigning responsibility and accountability, and implementing the action plan. Feedback entails (1) follow-up to those who report issues and (2) communication to the hospital staff and clinicians about events and actions taken. Responsibility and accountability for improvements need to be assigned by senior administration to hospital leaders who can effect the needed changes. Hospital leaders, not just the members of the patient safety team, must own these changes or improvements. Events that require follow-up action are brought to the attention of risk management and the patient safety team through several mechanisms, including voluntary reporting of adverse events through a computerized safety reporting system, root cause analyses, and Patient Safety Leadership WalkRounds.

Discussion: Developing and maintaining a systematic method for feedback represents more of a challenge than the completion of any single recommended action item. However, it is the feedback to the reporter that perpetuates the influx of information and closes the loop. Developing the information-tracking database has made providing feedback easier and more reliable but significant effort is required to keep the database current.

MeSH terms

  • Boston
  • Causality
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Hospitals, Urban*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*