ECRI Blog

How to Improve Your Organization's Approach to Healthcare Incident Management

Writing on clipboard with patient in background in hospital

Accidents, outbreaks, and other incidents regularly occur in healthcare settings. This is not surprising to most healthcare providers, including those working in aging services and ambulatory care facilities.

But acknowledging that incidents will happen can be the impetus behind taking precautions to prevent them. With effective incident management systems and protocols in place, your team can create a culture of safety and security that helps protects patient and staff health, as well as your institution’s reputation and financial stability.

But what does a good incident management system look like? How can you improve your system, and where can you get fact-based, reliable support that will help your team build a better incident prevention and management system?

What does incident management entail?

Incident management systems are designed to help healthcare organizations more effectively understand the patient journey and how adverse events occur. This analysis is critical to ensuring that your organization is taking the necessary steps to address patient safety via incident response.

This might encompass a wide variety of incidents that occur in the healthcare industry, including accidents and physical injury in elderly populations, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Incident reports help your organization log details about events and later, use that information to evaluate them and better determine what led to the incidents. Once your organization has better insight, you can work on preparedness, risk management, improving protocols, and educating personnel, so that you can reduce the likelihood that a similar incident will happen again. 

Take note, not all systems are alike. Those that solely use incident reporting systems without providing comprehensive insights will yield documentation, but no real change in behaviors or processes. This lack of corrective action leaves facilities open to disastrous mistakes and medical errors, caused, at least in part, by gaps in the information and failure to ever develop a solid incident action plan.

No matter where you are in the development of frameworks and protocols for incident management, there are ways you can address weaknesses in your system and foster better results.

How to improve your approach to healthcare incident management

There are numerous ways that you can utilize your incident report data. In addition, know that you also can reach out for support from consultants and services.

  1. Develop goals and objectives

    Goals and objectives help you envision the future and deliver healthcare with fewer incidents. Everything in healthcare is objective-based, and so too are incident reporting and management. Are you aiming to improve your emergency preparedness to aid in infection prevention? Are you seeing a spike in patient injuries and wishing to better educate your healthcare workers, so that they know what to avoid and how to navigate treatment more effectively? Have you found yourself facing lawsuits stemming from incidents taking place in your facilities? While the goal of healthcare incident management is clear, it's important to know why your organization aims to reduce incidents and how you can achieve this mandate.
  2. Create more stringent protocols and guidelines for incident reporting

    Not all incident reporting or incident management software is as effective as the modern healthcare facility demands. For example, while you may have incident reporting software in place, you might not be receiving the actionable insights that your organization needs to prevent future incidents. This may be due to a number of things, such as a lack of background as to why the accident occurred. So, what can you do? Examine vulnerabilities in your system. Does your current system allow you to provide comprehensive knowledge about the incident and examine root causes? Does your staff have the proper training to log incidents, and do your healthcare professionals have the ability to successfully analyze those incidents? Does your software offer all the features that you need to meet your incident management goals? There’s a great deal of consideration and research that goes into proper incident management. Take the time to see whether or not your current system truly serves your organization—and, if not, take steps to improve it today.

  3. Reach out for support with your incident management approach
    Finally, it's important to remember that you're never alone. If you need help with risk assessment, reporting, and educating hospital personnel, there are services available. ECRI offers Accident Forensic Investigation Servicestailored to healthcare facilities that need support with healthcare incident management.

    Here at ECRI, our highly qualified team of expert investigators works diligently to discover the causes of healthcare-related incidents so that you can address them and avoid them in the future. We also offer related services that you might need as you work to improve your healthcare incident management approach such as educational courses on how to conduct an accident investigation.

    We have extensive experience managing every aspect of internal investigations. We offer support for clinical interviews, record reviews, biomedical or biomechanical analyses, simulations of events, and even the determination of device failure mechanisms. ECRI investigators also work to protect you against legal battles by properly documenting every step of the process, ensuring that evidence is not inappropriately released or altered, and remaining unbiased as they support you. ECRI has investigated thousands of cases around the globe, making us an excellent resource to turn to should you have other issues stemming from your incident reporting and management system. No one else offers the knowledge and expertise to conduct an unbiased, scientific investigation to uncover and document facts and set your facility on a successful path forward.


    Learn more about why healthcare organizations nationwide rely on our expert investigators to determine the cause of healthcare-related incidents, deliver remedies, and provide legal support: www.ecri.org/solutions/accident-forensic-investigation-services

Topics: Aging and ASC

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