Last updated 25/01/2013

The Commission is developing a work programme to help implement the Global Trigger Tools programme in New Zealand.

The Global Trigger Tools* programme is an international initiative to reduce patient harm caused by errors in hospitals. Currently most health service providers rely on voluntary reporting of errors to identify problems in their systems, however overseas research found that only 10-20 percent of errors are ever reported. While in the vast majority of cases these errors did not result in patient harm, tracking these events would help identify where improvements should be made.

The Global Trigger Tools programme takes a different approach to error reporting, rather than relying on people reporting errors, it analyses random samples of patient records looking for ‘triggers’ which indicate an error has been made. The information gained can then be used to improve the quality and safety of the services provided. 

Carol Haraden is the Vice President of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI). IHI developed the Global Trigger Tool which the Commission is encouraging all DHBs to implement. The Commission is working to publish helpful resources to assist with implementation. In the short AV below, Carol is interviewed at the Asia Pacific Forum (APAC) on patient safety and asks why clinicians aren’t using a standardised approach to patient safety issues. She also talks about the importance of team-work in achieving improved patient safety.

The Global Trigger Tool has a focus on team-work as the methodology requires medical record reviews to be carried out by a team of trained reviewers who have a clinical background (usually nursing or pharmacy).  This is a simple, validated, and cost effective methodology and has been widely used to identify, quantify and track patient harm.


*Global Trigger Tool and IHI Global Trigger Tool are trademarks of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA ( external link).

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