Six-monthly patient safety incident data published

NHS England today welcomes the publication of 6-monthly data on patient safety incidents.

Acute hospitals, mental health services, community trusts, ambulance services and primary care organisations all report incidents in which any patient could have been harmed or has suffered any level of harm, to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS).

Incident reporting enables clinicians to learn from their own and others’ services about why patient safety incidents happen, so that they can act to prevent their own patients being placed at similar risks.

Data published today on the NRLS website shows that:

  • In the six months from October 2012 to March 2013, 683,883 incidents were reported to the system – 6.4% more than in the same period in the previous year.
  • Of those reported, 68% were reported as causing no harm. 25.1% were reported as causing low harm, meaning the patient required only increased observation or minor treatment as a result of the incident.
  • 6.1% were recorded as causing medium harm, meaning that the patient suffered significant but not permanent harm, requiring increased treatment
  • The top four most commonly reported types of incident have remained the same: patient accidents (23.5%), implementation of care and ongoing monitoring/review incidents (11.8%), treatment/procedure incidents (10.4%), and medication incidents (10.3%).

Clinicians in NHS England review all incidents resulting in severe harm and death, and have observed that the accuracy in coding of these incidents is improving, further demonstrating increased engagement with the importance of reporting and learning from patient safety incidents.

Dr Mike Durkin, Director of Patient Safety for NHS England, said: “The NHS sees a million people every 36 hours, so the risk of coming to any harm at all is very small, and the risk of coming to medium or severe harm is even tinier still. But clinicians across the NHS are determined to make sure we always do everything we can to minimise risk to patients.

“The trend of increased incident reporting reflects that work over recent years, and our continuing focus on reporting and learning in a culture of openness and honesty. As Prof Don Berwick made clear in his recent report, we need to constantly maintain and develop this culture so that we can always fully understand and therefore manage the risks inherent in all healthcare systems and keep up with new risks posed by advances in healthcare.”