DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1777454 ISSN: 1869-0327

Characterization of Safety Events Involving Technology in Primary and Community Care

Chantelle Recsky, Megan Stowe, Kathy L. Rush, Maura MacPhee, Lorraine Blackburn, Allison Muniak, Leanne M. Currie
  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


Background The adoption of technology in health care settings is often touted as an opportunity to improve patient safety. While some adverse events can be reduced by health information technologies, technology has also been implicated in or attributed to safety events. To date, most studies on this topic have focused on acute care settings.

Objectives To describe voluntarily reported safety events that involved health information technology in community and primary care settings in a large Canadian health care organization.

Methods Two years of safety events involving health information technology (2016–2018) were extracted from an online voluntary safety event reporting system. Events from primary and community care settings were categorized according to clinical setting, type of event, and level of harm. The Sittig and Singh sociotechnical system model was then used to identify the most prominent sociotechnical dimensions of each event.

Results Of 104 reported events, most (n = 85, 82%) indicated the event resulted in no harm. Public health had the highest number of reports (n = 45, 43%), whereas home health had the fewest (n = 7, 7%). Of the 182 sociotechnical concepts identified, many events (n = 61, 59%) mapped to more than one dimension. Personnel (n = 48, 46%), Workflow and Communication (n = 37, 36%), and Content (n = 30, 29%) were the most common. Personnel and Content together was the most common combination of dimensions.

Conclusion Most reported events featured both technical and social dimensions, suggesting that the nature of these events is multifaceted. Leveraging existing safety event reporting systems to screen for safety events involving health information technology, and applying a sociotechnical analytic framework can aid health organizations in identifying, responding to, and learning from reported events.

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