Adverse events are increasingly important to health care delivery and financial reimbursement. Most hospitals use voluntary event reporting (VER) systems to detect safety events, which may be vulnerable to individual and systemic biases. We tested the hypothesis that patient demographic factors such as weight status and race would be associated with safety event reporting in the acute care setting.


We reviewed all acute care encounters for patients 2 to 17 years of age and corresponding safety events entered in the VER system of a tertiary-care children’s hospital from February 2015 to February 2016. Data collected included patient demographics, clinical characteristics, incident description, and reported harm score. Our primary outcome was any report of a safety event. Using 2 and multivariable logistical regression methods, we determined patient characteristics associated with safety event reporting.


A total of 22 056 patient encounters were identified, and 341 (1.5%) of those had a reported safety event. In univariate analysis, age, weight category, and race were found to be significantly associated with event reporting, whereas sex and insurance provider were not. In the multivariable logistic regression model, obesity (odds ratio [OR] 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.49–0.97) and African American race (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.46–0.93) were negatively associated with event reporting, whereas length of stay was positively associated (OR 1.51; 95% CI 1.46–1.55).


We identified associations between patient demographic factors and voluntary safety event reporting in the acute care setting. In future studies, we will compare VER to event identification by more objective measures, such as a trigger tool.

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