Detection of adverse events in general surgery using the " Trigger Tool" methodology

Cir Esp. 2015 Feb;93(2):84-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ciresp.2014.08.007. Epub 2014 Oct 14.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Surgery is one of the high-risk areas for the occurrence of adverse events (AE). The purpose of this study is to know the percentage of hospitalisation-related AE that are detected by the «Global Trigger Tool» methodology in surgical patients, their characteristics and the tool validity.

Material and methods: Retrospective, observational study on patients admitted to a general surgery department, who underwent a surgical operation in a third level hospital during the year 2012. The identification of AE was carried out by patient record review using an adaptation of «Global Trigger Tool» methodology. Once an AE was identified, a harm category was assigned, including the grade in which the AE could have been avoided and its relation with the surgical procedure.

Results: The prevalence of AE was 36,8%. There were 0,5 AE per patient. 56,2% were deemed preventable. 69,3% were directly related to the surgical procedure. The tool had a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 93,6%. The positive predictive value was 89% and the negative predictive value 92%.

Conclusions: Prevalence of AE is greater than the estimate of other studies. In most cases the AE detected were related to the surgical procedure and more than half were also preventable. The adapted «Global Trigger Tool» methodology has demonstrated to be highly effective and efficient for detecting AE in surgical patients, identifying all the serious AE with few false negative results.

Keywords: Adverse event; Cirugía general; Efecto adverso; General surgery; Patient safety; Seguridad del paciente; Trigger Tool.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / adverse effects*