Department of Medicine Publications

To Report or Not to Report: A Descriptive Study Exploring ICU Nurses' Perceptions of Error and Error Reporting

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Intensive & Critical Care Nursing





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OBJECTIVE: To explore the emergent factors influencing nurses' error reporting preferences, scenarios were developed to probe reporting situations in the intensive care unit.

SETTING: Three Canadian intensive care unit settings including: one urban academic tertiary hospital, one community hospital and one academic paediatric hospital. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY/DESIGN: Using qualitative descriptive methodology, semi-structured interviews were guided by a script which included a series of both closed and open-ended questions. One near miss and four error scenarios were used as prompts during the interview. Four of the five scenarios were identical across all the three sites; however, one scenario differed in the community site to reflect the distinct practice environment.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Three key points of analysis included: nurses' error perception, decision to report the scenario and style of reporting (formal and/or informal).

RESULTS: At least 81% of the 37 participants stated that they would report the events in the respective scenarios. Deviations from standards of practice emerged as the primary rationale for participants' perception of error.

CONCLUSION: Nurses working in the intensive care unit readily perceive and are willing to report errors or near misses; however they may choose informal or formal methods to report.

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