Adverse events experienced by homecare patients: a scoping review of the literature

Int J Qual Health Care. 2010 Apr;22(2):115-25. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzq003. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


Purpose: The paper summarizes the results of a scoping review that focused on the occurrence of adverse events experienced by homecare patients.

Data sources: The literature search covered published and grey literature between 1998 and 2007. Databases searched included: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and EBM REVIEWS including the Cochrane Library, AGELINE, the National Patient Safety Foundation Bibliography, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient Safety Net bibliography.

Study selection: Papers included research studies, review articles, policy papers, opinion articles and legal briefs. Inclusion criteria were: (i) homecare directed services provided in the home by healthcare professionals or caregivers; (ii) addressed a characteristic relevant to patient experienced adverse events (e.g. occurrences, rates, definitions, prevention or outcomes); and (iii) were in English. Data extraction A pool of 1007 articles was reduced to 168 after analysis. Data were charted according to six categories: definitions, rates, causes, consequences, interventions and policy.

Results: Eight categories emerged: adverse drug events, line-related, technology-related, infections and urinary catheters, wounds, falls, studies reporting multiple rates and other. Reported overall rates of adverse events ranged from 3.5 to 15.1% with higher rates for specific types. Few intervention studies were found. Adverse events were commonly associated with communication problems. Policy suggestions included the need to improve assessments, monitoring, education, coordination and communication.

Conclusion: A standardized definition of adverse events in the homecare setting is needed. Prospective cohort studies are needed to improve estimates and intervention studies should be undertaken to reduce the risk that homecare patients will experience adverse events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Canada
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology
  • Health Services Research
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Medication Adherence
  • Pressure Ulcer / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Public Policy
  • Safety Management
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology