Incident reporting schemes and the need for a good story

Int J Med Inform. 2007 Jun;76 Suppl 1:S205-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2006.05.019. Epub 2006 Sep 7.


Incident reporting is a central strategy for improving safety in the NHS (UK National Health Service). In this paper we discuss incident reporting in anaesthesia. We discuss four schemes for reporting: longstanding, departmental based schemes; newer, hospital wide schemes; a national scheme; and an inter-departmental scheme (developed by the authors). We also discuss an example report. We argue that this example report gives an expert 'story' of an incident, describing the incident in a way that is useful for the practical activities of maintaining and improving safety. We argue that stories are told and retold in reporting schemes. The reporting schemes are not just there to collect data but to afford the stories of what went wrong. In turn these schemes must be afforded stories by the anaesthetists, safety managers and the organisation at large. We consider how schemes can be designed to afford a 'good' story, one that is useful for the maintaining and improvement of safety.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Narration*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Management / methods*
  • Safety Management
  • United Kingdom