Validation of triggers and development of a pediatric trigger tool to identify adverse eventsReport as inadecuate

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BMC Health Services Research

, 14:655

Quality, performance, safety and outcomes


BackgroundLittle is known about adverse events AEs in pediatric patients. Record review is a common methodology for identifying AEs, but in pediatrics the record review tools generally have limited focus. The aim of the present study was to develop a broadly applicable record review tool to identify AEs in pediatric inpatients.

MethodsUsing a broad literature review and expert opinion with a modified Delphi process, a pediatric trigger tool with 88 triggers, definitions, and descriptions including AE preventability decision support was developed and tested in a random sample of 600 hospitalized pediatric patients admitted in 2010 to a single university children’s hospital. Four registered nurse-physician teams performed complete two-stage retrospective reviews of 150 records each from either neonatal, surgical-orthopedic, medicine, or emergency medicine units.

ResultsRegistered nurse review identified 296 of 600 records with triggers indicating potential AEs. Records n = 121 with only false positive triggers not indicating any potential AEs were not forwarded to the next review stage. On subsequent physician review, 204 34.0% of patients were found to have had 563 AEs, range 1–27 AEs-patient. A total of 442 preventable AEs were found in 161 patients 26.8%, range 1–22. Overall, triggers were found 3,598 times in 417 69.5% records, with a mean of 6 median 1, range 0–176 triggers per patient. The overall positive predictive value of the triggers was 22.9%, range 0.0-100.0%. The final pediatric trigger tool, developed with a second Delphi round, required 29 triggers.

ConclusionsAEs are common in pediatric patients and most are preventable. The main contributions of this study are to further develop and adapt trigger definitions, including AE preventability decision support, to introduce new triggers in pediatric care, as well as to apply pediatric triggers in different clinical specialties. Our findings resulted in a national pediatric trigger tool, and might also be adapted internationally. The pediatric trigger tool can help healthcare organizations to measure and analyze the AEs occurring in hospitalized children in order to improve patient safety.

KeywordsAdverse event Trigger tool Retrospective record review Pediatric care Safety AbbreviationsADEAdverse drug event

AEAdverse event

GTTGlobal Trigger Tool

NCC MERPNational Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention

PPVPositive predictive value

PTTPediatric trigger tool

RNRegistered nurse

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12913-014-0655-5 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Maria Unbeck - Synnöve Lindemalm - Per Nydert - Britt-Marie Ygge - Urban Nylén - Carina Berglund - Karin Pukk Härenstam


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