Despite three decades of effort, ensuring inpatient safety remains elusive. Patients and family members are a potential source of safety observations, but systems gathering these are limited. Our goal was to test a system to gather safety observations from hospitalized patients and their family members via a real-time mobile health tool.
We developed a mobile-responsive website for reporting safety observations. We piloted the tool during June 2017–April 2018 on the medical–surgical unit of a children's hospital. Participants were English-speaking family members and patients ≥13 years. We sent a daily text with a website link. We assessed: (1) face validity by comparing observations to incident reporting (IR) criteria and to hospital IRs and (2) associations between the number of safety observations/100 patient-days and participant characteristics using Poisson regression.
We enrolled 235 patients (43.8% of 537 reviewed for eligibility), resulting in 8.15 safety reports/100 patient-days, most frequently regarding medications (29% of reports) and communication (20% of reports). Fifty-one (40% of 125) met IR criteria; only one (1.1%) had been reported via the IR system. Latinx participants submitted fewer observations than White participants (3.9 vs. 10.1, p = .002); participants with more prior hospitalizations submitted more observations (p < .001). In adjusted analyses, including measures of preference in decision making, and patient activation, the difference between Latinx and White participants diminished substantially (6.4 vs. 11.3, p = .16).
We demonstrated the feasibility of real-time patient and family-member technology-enabled safety observation reporting and elicited reports not otherwise identified. Variation in reporting may potentially exacerbate disparities in safety if not addressed.
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