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To report, or not to report, that is the question


iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Nobody likes that coach who plays favorites. Having a spot on the starting lineup should be earned, not just given because the coach likes you. The best possible scenario (winning) can only be accomplished by putting forth the team’s best effort (playing those who’ve earned the spot).

Wouldn’t you agree?

The same can be said about the role of Quality Improvement (QI) in our profession. Don’t worry, I’ll connect the dots!

Optimum patient care can only be accomplished by putting forth our best effort as a health care team. Our best effort means correcting and improving upon scenarios that were not optimum. I don’t think anyone would argue that events like medication errors, patient harm near-misses and unfortunate mistakes are not what we would consider optimum in the world of health care.

Enter QI.

I remember during a hospital orientation someone made the comment, “QI is everyone’s responsibility.” I couldn’t agree more.

When there is an error in the process, we need to report it. How else are we to determine what happened? How else can we investigate, fix and hopefully prevent the error from happening again?

When a fellow coworker makes an error, a reportable incident that can, could, or did cause patient harm, it needs to be reported.

And here lies the problem.

Unfortunately, nurses are playing favorites like that coach I talked about earlier. If they like the person who made the error, they won’t report it. If they think that person is “nice,” or “didn’t do it on purpose,” they don’t report the error.


While I love our show of support and camaraderie for our fellow coworkers, we must not view our QI duty as if we are turning our backs on those nice people. While being nice is great, being good at your job is how we take care of our patients. While be liked is nice, performing at our best is what our patients deserve.

Nobody likes a snitch, but consider how many incidents have not been reported due to this fear of offending someone we like. The last time I checked, ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Have you encountered similar experiences? Any thoughts on how to fix this problem?

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