Background: Hospitals and other health care organizations have increasingly recognized the need to engage patients as participants in patient safety. A study was conducted to compare patients' and health care staff's identification and reporting of such events.
Methods: A questionnaire was administered at six hospitals in Japan to outpatients and inpatients from November 2004 through February 2007. Patients were asked to respond to questions about experiences of possibly unsafe events. Patients experiencing such events were then asked about the events and whether they had reported their experience to health care staff. A specialist panel classified reported events as "uneasy-dissatisfying" or "unsafe."
Results: The response rates of outpatients and inpatients were 85.4% (1,506/1,764) and 54.3% (1,738/3,198), respectively. Among the respondents (> or = 20 years of age), 125 (8.7%) of the outpatients and 185 (10.9%) of the inpatients experienced uneasy-dissatisfying or unsafe events; 35 (2.4%) of the outpatients and 67 (4.0%) of the inpatients experienced unsafe events, the percent increasing with hospital stay. Only 38 (30.4%) of the outpatients and 62 (33.5%) of the inpatients reported the unsafe events to health care staff
Conclusion: Only 17.1% of unsafe events reported by inpatients were identified by the in-house reporting systems of adverse events and near misses. For the uneasy-dissatisfying or unsafe events that patients did not think necessary to report, the patients often felt they were self-evident or easily identifiable by health care staff, had difficulty evaluating the event, did not expect their report to bring any improvement, or even felt that reporting it would create some disadvantage in their medical treatment. Patient reporting programs and in-house reporting systems, among other detection methods, should be regarded as complementary sources of information.