Patient safety is one of the critical dimensions of quality of care.
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of adverse event (AE) in the neonatal unit of the Hospital Penna in Bahía Blanca, in 2006.
Methodology: Cross-sectional study based on a two-stage-chart-review methodology. 1st stage: screening through indicators that allow the identification of hospitalizations with higher risk of AE; 2nd stage: AE confirmation (assessment of the existence, type, category, preventability and consequences of AE).
Results: 484 charts were included. Frequency of AE: 146 in 82 hospitalizations (16.9%) and an average of 3 out of 10 hospitalizations. The most frequent AE were: nosocomial infections; catheter-use related events and extubations. The probability of AE was inversely associated with weight at birth and gestational age and directly related to length of stay (the longer the stay, the higher the probability). It was also positively associated with admission to the intensive care unit.
Conclusion: The neonatal population, especially premature newborns, constitutes a group of high vulnerability to present AE. Most of these events are potentially preventable, which highlights the need of implementing effective interventions oriented to improve patient safety and quality of care.