Safety Events

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A safety event (also known as an adverse event) is any error or accident that harms a patient, or increases the risk of harm to a patient. Many safety events can be prevented, and we work hard to avoid them each and every day. Some safety events are not preventable, such as a bad reaction to a medication in a patient who has never taken that medication before.

Safety events fall into one of five levels of severity. Level 1 and 2 events do not harm patients, or cause only a temporary change in condition. (For example, an IV bag leaks and has to be changed.) Although these events are minor, learning about them may help us improve our care or systems.

To track our quality of care, we focus on preventable events in levels 3 through 5. These are serious errors or accidents.

  • Level 3 events cause only a temporary change in condition, but are potentially serious. For example, a patient's condition deteriorates, and he or she has to be transferred to the ICU for monitoring.

  • Level 4 events cause patient harm, may result in additional health problems, and can be very dangerous. For example, a patient bleeds after surgery and has to be returned to the operating room, or needs blood transfusions.

  • Level 5 events result in a patient death. Patient deaths always require a comprehensive review of the hospital’s care and systems.

What are we doing to improve?

We track all safety events and near misses that occur in the hospital. The most serious preventable errors are reviewed by a committee of doctors, nurses, administrators and families, who recommend and implement changes to prevent similar events from occurring again. We also work with the Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety National Children's Network to share best practices regarding patient safety.

How do we compare to other hospitals?

Since no two hospitals define safety (or adverse) events in the same way, it's not possible to use this measure to compare hospitals. We track safety events to ensure patient safety and monitor our own performance against a standard of zero, not to compare our performance with others.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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