How To Improve Incident Reporting in Healthcare Facilities

Melissa Whetzel
Incident reporting

Incident reporting is critical to identifying and understanding errors, improving patient safety, and enhancing healthcare quality. It’s why the best compliance teams are constantly asking themselves how to improve incident reporting in healthcare facilities.

There are many factors that can impact whether employees report incidents. This post will lay out some of the most common, along with ideas to get your team on board and tips to improve your organization’s incident reporting process.

What Is an Incident Report?

An incident report is thorough documentation of the incident, including all relevant details that caused it and any outcomes that stemmed from it. The key to a good incident report is completeness and accuracy, and that means documenting as much information as possible.

Getting Your Team on Board With Incident Reporting

Healthcare employees may choose not to report incidents due to a variety of reasons, many of which are deeply rooted in the culture, practices, and structures of healthcare organizations. Understanding these reasons is crucial for addressing barriers to reporting and fostering a more transparent and safe healthcare environment. Here are several key factors that contribute to underreporting:

  • Fear of retribution or punishment
  • Lack of anonymity
  • Perceived lack of action
  • Difficulty of reporting process
  • Time constraints
  • Lack of knowledge or training

Getting your team on board with incident reporting in a healthcare setting involves creating a supportive culture, ensuring understanding and ease of the reporting process, and demonstrating the value of incident reporting for improving patient safety and care quality.

One idea to engage employees is providing a financial reward for departments without lost days of work. This encourages the reporting of incidents to allow managers to make accommodations for an injured employee, without losing a day. If a department doesn’t have lost days, enter everyone into a monthly drawing for as much as $250. Earning and losing the reward as a group and conducting the drawing in staff meetings keeps safety awareness and reporting top of mind. 

How To Improve the Incident Reporting Process in Healthcare Facilities

There’s more to improving incident reporting than just giveaways and rewards. The more barriers you can remove, the less you’ll be asking yourself how to improve incident reporting in healthcare facilities. 

  1. Make it accessible: The days of searching for paper incident reports and delivering to management are gone. Simplify the reporting process with digital platforms or mobile apps with 24/7 access. Not only does that make it easier for the employee to report, it reduces the time to resolution — and change the employee can see.
  2. Cut down the questions: No incidents are standard, yet many organizations have one standard incident report. That means there are required questions that employees won’t have an answer to. Creating a different report for each incident type is nearly impossible with paper forms. It’s easy to customize as many different report types as needed when you use a digital system. Plus it’s easy for you to track and analyze. 
  3. Easy escalation: Delivering a paper incident report from manager to manager is just not practical. It’s how employees lose confidence in the process. Many online solutions offer automated escalations that can be customized by report type, location, and more. 
  4. Make it truly anonymous: Is an incident report truly anonymous when it has to be delivered to a manager’s desk? Or worse — dropped into a box in a busy nurse’s station? In addition to a better way to submit anonymous reports, strengthen policies and systems to protect the confidentiality of both the reports and the identities of reporters.
  5. Solicit feedback from employees: It’s important to periodically review your incident reporting system to identify barriers to reporting and opportunities for enhancement. Ask users of the system to share their feedback and use it to guide improvements.

Improve Incident Reporting With an Online System

Many of the incident reporting process improvements can be achieved with an digital incident reporting solution. It can help to create the proactive reporting culture you desire, eliminate delays, identify trends, and resolve issues more quickly.

MedTrainer offers all the functions listed above in an all-in-one compliance solution. Enhance your compliance programs with digital incident reporting solutions for any size organization. Contact us to learn more.


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