Patients' reports of safety-related events and perceptions of safety can be a valuable source for hospitals. Patients of eight acute care hospitals in Switzerland were surveyed for safety-related events and concerns for safety. In workshops with hospitals areas for improvement were analyzed and priorities for change identified. To evaluate the benefit of the approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with hospital risk managers. 3,983 patients returned the survey (55% response rate). 21.4% reported at least one definite safety event, and the mean number of 'definite' incidents per patient was 0.31 (95% CI=0.29 to 0.34). 3.2% were very concerned and 14.7% were somewhat concerned about medical errors and safety. Having experienced a safety-related event, younger age, length of stay, poor health and a poor education increased the probability of reporting concerns. With some exceptions, results confirmed the hospitals' a priori expectations regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their institutions. Risk managers emphasized the usability of results for their work and the special value of referring to the patient's perspective at their home institutions. A considerable fraction of patients subjectively experiences safety-related events and is concerned about safety. Patient-generated data introduced a new quality into the discussion of safety issues within hospitals, and some expected that patients' experiences and concerns could affect patient volumes. Though the study is limited by the short time horizon and the lack of follow-up, the results suggest that the described approach is feasible and can serve as a supplemental tool for risk identification and management.
Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier GmbH.