Identifying no-harm incidents in home healthcare: A cohort study using trigger tool methodology

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Background: Patient safety in home healthcare is largely unexplored. No-harm incidents may give valuable information about risk areas and system failures as a source for proactive patient safety work. We hypothesized that it would be feasible to retrospectively identify no-harm incidents and thus aimed to explore the cumulative incidence, preventability, types, and potential contributing causes of no-harm incidents that affected adult patients admitted to home healthcare. Methods: A structured retrospective record review using a trigger tool designed for home healthcare. A random sample of 600 home healthcare records from ten different organizations across Sweden was reviewed. Results: In the study, 40,735 days were reviewed. In all, 313 no-harm incidents affected 177 (29.5%) patients; of these, 198 (63.2%) no-harm incidents, in 127 (21.2%) patients, were considered preventable. The most common no-harm incident types were "fall without harm," "deficiencies in medication management," and "moderate pain." The type "deficiencies in medication management" was deemed to have a preventability rate twice as high as those of "fall without harm" and "moderate pain." The most common potential contributing cause was "deficiencies in nursing care and treatment, i.e., delayed, erroneous, omitted or incomplete treatment or care." Conclusion: This study suggests that it is feasible to identify no-harm incidents and potential contributing causes such as omission of care using record review with a trigger tool adapted to the context. No-harm incidents and potential contributing causes are valuable sources of knowledge for improving patient safety, as they highlight system failures and indicate risks before an adverse event reach the patient.




Lindblad, M., Unbeck, M., Nilsson, L., Schildmeijer, K., & Ekstedt, M. (2020). Identifying no-harm incidents in home healthcare: A cohort study using trigger tool methodology. BMC Health Services Research, 20(1).

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