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Frequency and nature of reported incidents during Emergency Department care
  1. Julie Considine1,
  2. Belinda Mitchell2,
  3. Helen E Stergiou2
  1. 1School of Nursing, Deakin University - Northern Health Clinical Partnership Victoria, Australia
  2. 2The Northern Hospital, Northern Health, Epping, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Julie Considine, School of Nursing, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Victoria, Australia; julie.considine{at}


Background The aim of this study was to examine reported incidents affecting Emergency Department (ED) episodes of care.

Methods A retrospective audit of ED patients was carried out in an urban district hospital in Melbourne, Australia from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008. The main outcome measure was presence or absence of reported patient-related incident(s) during ED care.

Results There were 984 patient-related incidents (n=984) during 2008.The most common incidents were related to patient behaviour (66.4%), patient management (10.1%) and medications (6.5%). Patients whose ED care involved reported incident(s) were older, had higher triage categories, longer length of ED stay and were more likely to need hospital admission or leave at their own risk. Eighteen per cent of reported incidents occurred in patients aged 65 years and over. Incidents affecting older patients were more likely to be related to breach of skin integrity, patient management, diagnosis and patient identification, and less likely to involve patient behaviour.

Conclusions Reported incident(s) occurred in 0.47% of ED episodes of care. Differences in personal and clinical characteristics of patients whose ED care involved reported incident(s) highlights the need for better understanding of incidents occurring in the ED in order to improve systems for high-risk patients.

  • Emergency medicine
  • risk management
  • incident reporting
  • audit
  • aged
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • systems
  • management
  • data management
  • quality assurance
  • research

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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