Skip to main content

Does Error and Adverse Event Reporting by Physicians and Nurses Differ?

Buy Article:

$12.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Background: Some hospitals have instituted voluntary electronic error reporting systems (e-ERSs) to gather data on medical errors, adverse events, near misses, or environmental issues in a peer review–protected environment. An e-ERS allows for real-time review, oversight, and intervention and provides insight into hospital processes in need of modification to reduce the likelihood of adverse hospital events. In a descriptive study of a standardized, Web-based reporting system, the reporting practices of physicians and nurses were compared.

Methods: Twenty-nine acute care hospitals and one long term care organization implemented an e-ERS between August 2000 and December 2005. The reporting system consisted of a secure, Web-based portal available on all hospital computers. Events were classified by the level of impact on the patient using a standard classification scheme. All reports that occurred from August 2000 through January 2006 were analyzed in aggregate analyses. Hospitals and patients were de-identified to study investigators.

Results: Some 266,224 events were reported over 7.3 million inpatient days—1 event per 27.5 days. Physicians were the reporters of 1.1% of total events, nurses 45.3%, and other hospital employees 53.6%. Physicians were more likely to be the reporter for events that caused permanent harm, near death, or death of a patient (p < .01). Nurses were more likely to be the reporter for events that caused no or temporary harm (p < .01).

Discussion: Physicians reported a narrower spectrum of events than nurses; they were more likely to report as the impact of events on patients increased but less likely to report fatal events. Nurses' reporting remained stable across impact levels. Differences exist between whether nurses and physicians report events; physicians must be encouraged to increase their reporting of adverse events.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-09-01

More about this publication?
  • The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety will be published by Elsevier beginning in 2017! For readers who receive access to the journal through their institutions, the journal can now be found on ScienceDirect ( For librarians looking to subscribe to the journal for their institutions please contact your Elsevier Account Manager or visit for more information. All other readers, please visit to subscribe to the journal or to claim your access for an existing subscription.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Reprints and Permissions
  • Index
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free ContentFree content
  • Partial Free ContentPartial Free content
  • New ContentNew content
  • Open Access ContentOpen access content
  • Partial Open Access ContentPartial Open access content
  • Subscribed ContentSubscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed ContentPartial Subscribed content
  • Free Trial ContentFree trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more