Implementation of a patient safety incident management system as viewed by doctors, nurses and allied health professionals

Joanne F. Travaglia, Mary T. Westbrook, Jeffrey Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Incident reporting systems have become a central mechanism of most health services patient safety strategies. In this article we compare health professionals' anonymous, free text responses in an evaluation of a newly implemented electronic incident management system. The professions' answers were compared using classic content analysis and Leximancer, a computer assisted text analysis package. The classic analysis identified issues which differentiated the professions. More doctors commented on lack of feedback following incidents and evaluated the system negatively. More allied health staff found that the system lacked fields necessary to report incidents. More nurses complained incident reporting was time consuming. The Leximancer analysis revealed that while the professions all used the more frequently employed concepts (which described basic components of the reporting system), nurses and allied health shared many additional concepts concerned with actual reporting. Doctors applied fewer and more unique (used only by one profession) concepts when writing about the system. Doctors' unique concepts centred on criticism of the incident management system and the broader implications of safety issues, while the other professions' unique concepts focused on more practical issues. The classic analysis identified specific problems needing to be targeted in ongoing modifications of the system. The Leximancer findings, while complementing the classical analysis results, gave greater insight into professional groups' attitudes that relate to use of the system, e.g. doctors' relatively limited conceptual vocabulary regarding the system was consistent with their lower incident reporting rates. Such professional differences in reaction to healthcare innovations may constrain inter-disciplinary communication and cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-296
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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