Background: Despite the number of patient safety incidents that occur in hospitals, physicians currently may not have the ideal incident reporting tools for easy disclosure. A study was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of a simplified paper incident reporting process for internal medicine physicians on uncovering patient safety incidents.
Design: Thirty-nine internal medicine attending physicians were instructed to incorporate the use of a simplified paper incident reporting tool (DISCLOSE) into daily patient rounds during a three-month period. All physicians were surveyed at the conclusion of the three months.
Results: Compared with physician reporting via the hospital's traditional incident reports from the same time period, a higher number (98 incidents versus 37; a 2.6-fold increase) of incidents were uncovered using the DISCLOSE reporting tool in a larger number of error categories (58 versus 14, a 4.1-fold increase). When reviewed and classified with a five-point harm scale, 41% of events were judged to have reached patients but not caused harm, 33% to have resulted in temporary harm, and 9% of reports, though not considered events, were to indicate a "risky situation." Surveyed physicians were more satisfied with the process of submitting incident reports using the new DISCLOSE tool.
Discussion: A simplified incident reporting process at the point of care generated a larger number and breadth of physician disclosed error categories, and increased physician satisfaction with the process.