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The Australian incident monitoring study in intensive care: AIMS-ICU. The development and evaluation of an incident reporting system in intensive care


Intensive care units are complex, dynamic patient management environments. Incidents and accidents can be caused by human error, by problems inherent in complex systems, or by a combination of these. Study objectives were to develop and evaluate an incident reporting system. A report form was designed eliciting a description of the incident, contextual information and contributing factors. Staff group sessions using open-ended questions, observations in the workplace and a review of earlier narratives were used to develop the report form. Three intensive care units participated in a two-month evaluation study. Feedback questionnaires were used to assess staff attitudes and understanding, project design and organization. These demonstrated a positive attitude and good understanding by more than 90% participants. Errors in communication, technique, problem recognition and charting were the predisposing factors most commonly chosen in the 128 incidents reported. It was concluded that incident monitoring may be a suitable technique for improving patient safety in intensive care.

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