Emergency Department Adverse Events Detected Using the Emergency Department Trigger Tool

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Study objective: The Emergency Department Trigger Tool (EDTT) is a novel approach to adverse event detection in the ED. We previously described the derivation, validation, and high-level performance of this tool. Here we further detail adverse events detected to demonstrate the utility of the EDTT and how it might be used for quality improvement. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data from a retrospective observational study. We ran the EDTT (a computerized query for triggers) on 13 months of ED visit data, reviewing 5,582 selected records using a typical 2-tiered trigger tool approach. The adverse events detected were categorized by place of occurrence (in the ED versus present on arrival), severity, omission/commission, and type using a taxonomy with categories, subcategories, and up to 3 cross-cutting modifiers. We present adverse event data in detail, focusing in turn on each of these descriptors (severity, event types, and cross-cutting themes) and highlight opportunities identified for targeted improvement. Results: We identified 458 adverse events occurring in the ED for a 13-month period, 10% of which required urgent intervention. Nearly all (90%) were acts of commission. Events resulting in harm were most often related to medications administered and patient care. Common cross-cutting event types included adverse events related to bleeding, opioids, and the use of propofol. Most adverse events (80%) led to temporary harm. Conclusion: The EDTT identifies a broad spectrum of adverse event types, allowing a review by severity, frequency, and type to better understand existing levels of harm in the ED and identify targets for quality improvement. A multicenter study of the EDTT is currently underway, which will contribute additional power and assess generalizability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-538
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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