Background Adverse event(AE) detection in healthcare has traditionally relied upon several methods including: patient care documentation review, mortality and morbidity review, voluntary reporting, direct observation and complaint systems. A novel sampling strategy, known as the trigger tool (TT) methodology, has been shown to provide a more robust and valid method of detection. The aim of this research was to develop and assess a TT specific to ground-based Emergency Medical Services, to identify cases with the potential risk for adverse events and harm.
Methods The study was conducted between March and December 2015. A literature review identified 57 potential triggers, which were grouped together by experts using an affinity process. Triggers for other areas of potential AE/harm were additionally considered for inclusion. An interim TT consisting of nine triggers underwent five iterative rounds of derivation tests of 20 random patient care records (n=100) in two emergency medical services. A final eight-item trigger list underwent a large sample (n=9836) assessment of test characteristics.
Results The final eight-item TT consisted of triggers divided amongst four categories: Clinical, Medication, Procedural and Return-Call. The TT demonstrated an AE identification rate of 41.5% (sensitivity 79.8% (95% CI, 69.9% to 87.6%); specificity 58.5% (95% CI, 52% to 64.8%)). When identifying potential risk for harm, the TT demonstrated a harm identification rate of 19.3% (sensitivity 97.1% (95% CI, 84.7% to 99.9%); specificity 53.5% (95% CI, 47.7% to 59.3%)).
Discussion The Emergency Medical Services Trigger Tool (EMSTT) may be used as a sampling strategy similar to the Global Trigger Tool, to identify and measure AE and harm over time, and monitor the success of improvement initiatives within the Emergency Medical Services setting.
- Emergency Medical Service
- Patient Safety
- Adverse Event
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Contributors DMW, KSM, RCO and LAHAS conceived the idea for the research. ILH, JMB, DMW, KSM and LAHAS contributed towards data collection and analysis. ILH was primarily responsible for the draft of manuscript. All authors contributed towards the final manuscript for submission.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.