BMJ quality & safety 2016 02 0926(2) 111-119 doi 10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004828
Irish healthcare has undergone extensive change recently with spending cuts and a focus on quality initiatives; however, little is known about adverse event occurrence.
To assess the frequency and nature of adverse events in Irish hospitals.
1574 (53% women, mean age 54 years) randomly selected adult inpatient admissions from a sample of eight hospitals, stratified by region and size, across the Republic of Ireland in 2009 were reviewed using two-stage (nurse review of patient charts, followed by physician review of triggered charts) retrospective chart review with electronic data capture. Results were weighted to reflect the sampling strategy. The impact on adverse event rate of differing application of international adverse event criteria was also examined.
45% of charts were triggered. The prevalence of adverse events in admissions was 12.2% (95% CI 9.5% to 15.5%), with an incidence of 10.3 events per 100 admissions (95% CI 7.5 to 13.1). Over 70% of events were considered preventable. Two-thirds were rated as having a mild-to-moderate impact on the patient, 9.9% causing permanent impairment and 6.7% contributing to death. A mean of 6.1 added bed days was attributed to events, representing an expenditure of €5550 per event. The adverse event rate varied substantially (8.6%-17.0%) when applying different published adverse event eligibility criteria.
This first study of adverse events in Ireland reports similar rates to other countries. In a time of austerity, adverse events in adult inpatients were estimated to cost over €194 million. These results provide important baseline data on the adverse event burden and, alongside web-based chart review, provide an incentive and methodology to monitor future patient-safety initiatives.