Background and Objectives:
The efficacy of anonymous incident reporting (AIR) is critical to creating a culture of safety. Prior studies have sought to establish AIR in a similar manner as aviation, nuclear power, and other industries. However, health care presents unique challenges that differ greatly from these industries. We present a straightforward method using statistical process control to study the progression and efficacy of AIR.
This study represents a retrospective review of all anonymous incident reports and surgical critical events from 2012 to 2017 at a single-institution, 500-bed, university-based, metropolitan Veterans Affairs Administration Medical Center located in Texas. This work was approved by the Veterans Administration Quality Board and deemed to be an appropriate quality improvement project. This project did not require institutional review board approval.
There was an exponential increase in AIRs in the first 15 months from 1 report per month to 168 reports in the ninth month (1425% increase). The results then plateaued over time (first year: 1017, second year: 1634, and third year: 1938—common-cause variation). A logarithmic regression was performed for progression of AIRs per month yielding the equation y = −7E-13ln(x) + 142.92, Pearson Correlation Coefficient = 0.55, where y represents number of reports and x time by month. The highest number of Critical Incident Tracking Notification System (CITNS) reports was observed early in the self-reporting process and decreased over time (first year: 5, second year: 2, third year: 1, fourth year: 1, and fifth year: 0). The numbers of AIR and CITNS reports were found to be inversely related with a Pearson correlation coefficient of −0.4.
Statistical process control can be applied to an institution's AIR program to study progression and situational awareness.