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The Global Trigger Tool

Date: November 6, 2012
Filed under: Quality Improvement, Tools


The Global Trigger Tool – Plotting a Course for Improvement

Traditional efforts to detect adverse events have focused on voluntary reporting and tracking of errors. However, public health researchers have established that only 10 to 20 percent of errors are ever reported and, of those, 90 to 95 percent cause no harm to patients. Hospitals need additional tools to identify events that do cause harm to patients, in order to then select and test changes to reduce harm.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement Global Trigger Tool for Measuring Adverse Events provides an easy-to-use methodology for accurately identifying harm and measuring adverse events over time. The Trigger Tool involves a retrospective review of a random sample of inpatient hospital records using “triggers” or clues to identify possible adverse events. Used in conjunction with the voluntary reporting methodology of the Patient Safety & Learning System, the Trigger Tool allows facilities to identify adverse events, assess the level of harm and track the effectiveness improvement efforts in reducing harm.

The success of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) and Providence Health Care (PHC) in implementing the IHI Global Trigger Tool provides a valuable opportunity to spread this innovation to British Columbia’s other health authorities. This initiative makes use of the internal capacity of VCH and PHC to educate and support the other health authorities and will ensure a provincially consistent approach to identifying adverse events. Education sessions are now planned and all are encouraged to attend.

To learn more about the Global Trigger Tool, please see the IHI website.