Evaluation of a Broad-Spectrum Partially Automated Adverse Event Surveillance System: A Potential Tool for Patient Safety Improvement in Hospitals With Limited Resources

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the sensitivity and resource efficiency of a partially automated adverse event (AE) surveillance system for routine patient safety efforts in hospitals with limited resources.


Twenty-eight automated triggers from the hospital information system's clinical and administrative databases identified cases that were then filtered by exclusion criteria per trigger and then reviewed by an interdisciplinary team. The system, developed and implemented using in-house resources, was applied for 45 days of surveillance, for all hospital inpatient admissions (N = 1107). Each trigger was evaluated for its positive predictive value (PPV). Furthermore, the sensitivity of the surveillance system (overall and by AE category) was estimated relative to incidence ranges in the literature.


The surveillance system identified a total of 123 AEs among 283 reviewed medical records, yielding an overall PPV of 52%. The tool showed variable levels of sensitivity across and within AE categories when compared with the literature, with a relatively low overall sensitivity estimated between 21% and 44%. Adverse events were detected in 23 of the 36 AE categories defined by an established harm classification system. Furthermore, none of the detected AEs were voluntarily reported.


The surveillance system showed variable sensitivity levels across a broad range of AE categories with an acceptable PPV, overcoming certain limitations associated with other harm detection methods. The number of cases captured was substantial, and none had been previously detected or voluntarily reported. For hospitals with limited resources, this methodology provides valuable safety information from which interventions for quality improvement can be formulated.

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