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Getting Doctors to Report Medical Errors: Project DISCLOSE

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Background: Despite the number of patient safety incidents that occur in hospitals, physicians currently may not have the ideal incident reporting tools for easy disclosure. A study was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of a simplified paper incident reporting process for internal medicine physicians on uncovering patient safety incidents.

Design: Thirty-nine internal medicine attending physicians were instructed to incorporate the use of a simplified paper incident reporting tool (DISCLOSE) into daily patient rounds during a three-month period. All physicians were surveyed at the conclusion of the three months.

Results: Compared with physician reporting via the hospital's traditional incident reports from the same time period, a higher number (98 incidents versus 37; a 2.6-fold increase) of incidents were uncovered using the DISCLOSE reporting tool in a larger number of error categories (58 versus 14, a 4.1-fold increase). When reviewed and classified with a five-point harm scale, 41% of events were judged to have reached patients but not caused harm, 33% to have resulted in temporary harm, and 9% of reports, though not considered events, were to indicate a "risky situation." Surveyed physicians were more satisfied with the process of submitting incident reports using the new DISCLOSE tool.

Discussion: A simplified incident reporting process at the point of care generated a larger number and breadth of physician disclosed error categories, and increased physician satisfaction with the process.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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