Root cause analysis of serious adverse events among older patients in the Veterans Health Administration.

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Root cause analysis of serious adverse events among older patients in the Veterans Health Administration.

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2014 Jun;40(6):253-62

Authors: Lee A, Mills PD, Neily J, Hemphill RR

BACKGROUND: Preventable adverse events are more likely to occur among older patients because of the clinical complexity of their care. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS) stores data about serious adverse events when a root cause analysis (RCA) has been performed. A primary objective of this study was to describe the types of adverse events occurring among older patients (age > or = 65 years) in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Secondary objectives were to determine the underlying reasons for the occurrence of these events and report on effective action plans that have been implemented in VA hospitals.
METHODS: In a retrospective, cross-sectional review, RCA reports were reviewed and outcomes reported using descriptive statistics for all VA hospitals that conducted an RCA for a serious geriatric adverse event from January 2010 to January 2011 that resulted in sustained injury or death.
RESULTS: The search produced 325 RCA reports on VA patients (age > or = 65 years). Falls (34.8%), delays in diagnosis and/or treatment (11.7%), unexpected death (9.9%), and medication errors (9.0%) were the most commonly reported adverse events among older VA patients. Communication was the most common underlying reason for these events, representing 43.9% of reported root causes. Approximately 40% of implemented action plans were judged by local staff to be effective.
CONCLUSION: The RCA process identified falls and communication as important themes in serious adverse events. Concrete actions, such as process standardization and changes to communication, were reported by teams to yield some improvement. However, fewer than half of the action plans were reported to be effective. Further research is needed to guide development and implementation of effective action plans.

PMID: 25016673 [PubMed - in process]

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