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Original article

Vol. 152 No. 0304 (2022)

A qualitative analysis of critical incident reporting in a paediatric hospital: benefits and weaknesses

  • Luisa Heuer
  • Markus Lehner
  • Martin Stocker
  • Philipp Szavay
  • Sabine Zundel
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30051


AIMS OF THE STUDY: The value of critical incident reporting systems (CIRSs) has been shown before but data for paediatric facilities are scarce. We aimed to evaluate a CIRS in a paediatric hospital to analyse its benefits, weaknesses and opportunities.

METHODS: In a qualitative analysis, all incidents reported in 2018 with the anonymous reporting tool (CIRS) of the Children's Hospital Lucerne were evaluated. In an iterative process, categories to group the incidents were created and the data analysed accordingly. The focus was on the problem created through the incident, the type of error and possible avoidance.

RESULTS: 496 incidents were reported in 2018: 307 incidents led to medical errors directly effecting patients, 82 incidents led to organisational problems increasing expenditure and 107 incidents were found to not result in any problem. In the majority of cases (398/496) there was no evidence that the caregiver responsible was informed. Personal feedback was documented in 46 cases. Fifty-two incidents were self-reported.

CONCLUSION: A number of reported incidents helped to identify system-based errors and for these the reporting system proved indispensable. Many of the reported errors were found to have an individual component, or only organisational or no consequences. Our data give evidence that instead of giving direct personal feedback, the anonymous reporting system was utilised. The CIRS is essential to identify system-based errors, but personal feedback needs to become obligatory so caregivers can learn from their error: an additional tool to ensure individual feedback and overcome communication difficulties needs to be created.


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