No healthcare operation is perfect. Every healthcare professional and facility works overtime to prevent medical or equipment errors, but the margins in healthcare are always incredibly thin. When an error results in further injury or costly consequences, facilities must recognize what went wrong, and examine how they can avoid these “healthcare incidents” in the future. This is why incident reports are so important, for the success of any reputable healthcare facility. To help facilities with improving their operations, facilities need to make sure their incident reporting is as effective as it can possibly be.
What is an Incident Report?
For the uninitiated, an incident report is the collation of data regarding the healthcare incidents that take place in a hospital, physician’s office, or other healthcare setting. In theory, this allows facilities to examine the most commonly occurring incidents, isolate their root cause, and address them for better patient AND HCP safety. Most incident reports are filed by HCPs working directly, as they are commonly first-hand witnesses (or even victims) to the various hazards in the workplace. This includes nurses, doctors, and physicians. That being said, anyone can submit an incident report, such as patients, staff, patient families, and more.
What are the Obstacles to Good Incident Reporting?
Incident Reporting is only as good as the culture of the workplace and the system in place. If there is no convenient or timely reporting system in place, then most HCPs will simply not bother. On a similar note, if your facility has a track record for ignoring incidents, then HCPs will decide it is not worth it. More pressingly, facility personnel and residents to avoid getting blamed and ostracized. A number of issues can prevent HCPs from reporting incidents, but these are the most pressing.
What can be done?
If a facility wants to facilitate effective Incident Reporting, a couple of key measures must be taken.
Make Reporting More Convenient
If facilities invest to make Incident Reporting as hassle-free and convenient as possible, more HCPs will bother to report. A great way to achieve this is by going digital. It does not get more convenient than incident reporting through your phone or various electronic devices. Adopting a mobile application specifically for incident reporting, or effectively integrating incident management software that collects and synthesizes data efficiently are just some of the measures you can take.
Communicate with Staff Throughout the Process
Proper communication can resolve most of the problems that plague incident reporting systems. You want your staff to know where they can report incidents while encouraging them to do so when necessary. Make it clear that this is for the good of the company, and that they will not be punished for presenting a problem that can be prevented in the future. Congratulate them for pointing out problems or concerns before they can get worse in the future.
Give Running Updates on Facility Measures
When you start addressing these problems, you must also communicate what is being done and how the facility will do it. Seeing tangible results convinces HCPs of the effectiveness of the incident reporting system.
You want your staff to feel involved with the facility’s processes. Share the statistics and findings with your staff. This not only makes them more involved but makes them cognizant of these potential risk factors as they provide care. This benefits everyone involved and encourages staff to notify problems whenever they are recognized, rather than avoiding the process altogether.