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Is incident reporting, in itself, of much value?

  |   State Claims Agency

One of the interesting behaviours that I noted during the implementation of the NIMS was the emphasis on the incident capture stage of the process. Of course it’s important, and for as long as incidents are reported and recorded there will be debate about methods of incident capture, paper forms vs. electronic point of occurrence, what data that needs to be captured, reporting picklists etc. However, I wonder whether for some people, reporting has become the beginning and the end and that they have lost sight that, in truth, it is only the starting point of the incident management process.

Yes, incident capture is important in itself. It fulfils a statutory requirement to report incidents to the SCA. It can be the important record in the event of a statutory investigation or a claim for compensation. We know that organisations that have higher levels of reporting are also likely to have improved levels of risk management.

Also, there is some use in analysing aggregated incident data. It can show trends and hotspots. Incident counts can provide initial but sometimes useful key performance indicators. However, there is a limit to the value and impact of these counts. We can produce all the statistics and counts of this type but, on its own, does it have any real impact – does it prevent these incidents from happening again?

We need…to put investigation at the centre of our incident management process

What we need to do is to put investigation at the centre of our incident management process. Investigation tells us what went wrong and why. It reveals what we need to do to prevent recurrence. Incident investigation is the challenging and time consuming part of the incident management process but will provide the greatest rewards.

The NIMS workflow design has certain features which makes it a very powerful tool in all stages of incident management but in particular for the incident investigation stage. It supports you in prioritising, assigning, tracking, and managing investigations. More importantly you can record the conclusions and recommendation of your investigations. Using the NIMS, you can assign and track your recommendations at a local, regional, organisational or national level, to a close.

This data captured in the investigation, conclusion and recommendation screens in the aggregate for one location, multiple locations in an organisation or for the State as a whole will be a rich vein of information which will provide lessons learned that will steer us in a direction that will lead to real change and improvement.

Unfortunately, like people who have iPhones and use them primarily for texting and phone calls, most organisations are currently using the NIMS data entry functionality. We have a number of pioneers who are using the incident investigation screens and the feedback is very positive. As part of the Phase II Implementation of the NIMS across the healthcare, civil service and public sectors, we want to encourage and champion the use of the Incident Investigation screens. 

Over 2016, we, in conjunction with our stakeholders, will be launching training, seminars and guidance material to encourage your organisation in using the NIMS tool to support incident investigation. The SCA is completing a suite of reports for senior management and subject matter experts in all our clients’ organisations which will give key management information on the end to end incident management process, including those incidents that result in claims. Part of this report will focus on the incident investigation records and, in some cases, we hope to have one to one follow up with your organisation. We are looking forward to working in conjunction with you to get the best out of the NIMS tool and assist you in reducing risk and claims against your organisation and the State.

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Article by:

Pat Kirwan, NIMS Project Sponsor,
Deputy Director, State Claims Agency