Patient surveys are an additional useful tool for identifying adverse events occurring during hospital stays

Research Activities, April 2012

After hospital discharge, many patients can accurately identify adverse events they experienced during a recent hospitalization, concludes a new study. This information can help identify patient safety problems and guide quality improvement efforts, note the researchers. They examined telephone survey responses from 2,582 adult medical and surgical patients discharged between April and October 2003 from 16 Massachusetts hospitals. More than two-thirds (71 percent) of 1,170 negative effects reported by 29 percent of those surveyed were classified as adverse events by physician researchers. Patients who reported one or more negative effects were more likely (22 vs. 16 percent) to have spent time in an intensive care unit and to have had a hospital stay of 6 days or longer (35 vs. 25 percent), but less likely to have been admitted through the emergency department (46 vs. 58 percent).

Patient characteristics also were influential. Physicians were 28 percent less likely to classify a negative effect as an adverse event for patients 50 years of age or older and 37 percent less likely to do so if the patient were admitted through the emergency department. Physicians were 39 percent and 37 percent, respectively, more likely to classify a negative effect as an adverse event if the patient were female or reported being in excellent/very good health. A total of 619 of the adverse events were judged to be significantly severe, serious, or life-threatening. The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11928).

More details are in "Can we rely on patients' reports of adverse events?" by Junya Zhu, M.S., M.A., Sherri O. Stuver, Sc.D., Arnold M. Epstein, M.D., M.A., and others in the October 2011 Medical Care 49(10), pp. 948-955.

Current as of April 2012
Internet Citation: Patient surveys are an additional useful tool for identifying adverse events occurring during hospital stays: Research Activities, April 2012. April 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr12/0412RA7.html