Incident reports: What you need to know

Nurse Leader Insider, September 3, 2015

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Incidents reports are a pain to fill out, but vital for documenting what happened and for protecting yourself and your staff. This week, we're republishing installments of a popular post chock full of best practices, provided by Patricia A. Duclos-Miller, MS, RN, CNA, BC.

If you and your staff think that incident reports are more trouble than they're worth, you could not be more wrong.

We work in high-stress, fast-paced environments. It is your responsibility as a member of the nursing management team to understand the importance of incident reports, to ensure that your staff completes them, and to investigate incidents to avoid any further occurrences. Your investigation will also provide possible defense if during your investigation you identify a system failure and take the necessary corrective action(s).

The purpose of the incident report is to refresh the memories of both the nurse manager/supervisor and the staff nurse. While the clinical record is patient-focused, the incident report is incident-focused. The benefit to you and your staff is that the incident report will help you and the persons involved remember what happened even if years have passed since it occurred.

The incident report is a risk-management document that helps with rapid response or review of potentially faulty systems. A valuable tool for the hospital risk manager, the incident report can assist in identifying liability. In addition, the incident report provides the risk manager with the information needed to process restitution, if appropriate.

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