Using a Pediatric Trigger Tool to Estimate Total Harm Burden Hospital-acquired Conditions Represent

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To improve patient safety, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has promoted systematically measuring and reporting harm due to patient care. The CMS’s Partnership for Patients program identified 9 hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) for reduction, to make care safer, more reliable, and less costly. However, the proportion of inpatient pediatric harm represented by these HACs is unknown.


We conducted a retrospective review of 240 harms previously identified using the Pediatric All-Cause Harm Measurement Tool, a trigger tool that is applied to medical records to comprehensively identify harms. The original sample included 600 randomly selected patients from 6 children’s hospitals in February 2012. Patients with rehabilitation, obstetric, newborn nursery, and psychiatric admissions were excluded. The 240 identified harms were classified as a HAC if the event description potentially met the definition of 1 of the 9 CMS-defined HACs. HAC assessment was performed independently by 2 coauthors and compared using Cohen’s Kappa.


Two hundred forty harms across 6 children’s hospitals were identified in February 2012 using a pediatric global trigger tool. Agreement between the coauthors on HAC classification was high (Kappa = 0.77). After reconciling differences, of the 240 identified harms, 58 (24.2%; 95% confidence interval: 9.1–31.7%) were classified as a CMS-defined HAC.


One-fourth of all harms detected by a pediatric-specific trigger tool are represented by HACs. Although substantial effort is focused on identifying and minimizing HACs, to better understand and ultimately mitigate harm, more comprehensive harm identification and quantification may be needed to address events unidentified using this approach.

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