Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A previous study (Stanhope et al. 1998) established that staff in two obstetric units reported less than a quarter of designated incidents to the units' risk managers. A questionnaire was administered to 42 obstetricians and 156 midwives at the same two obstetric units, exploring the reasons for low rates of reporting. Questions concerned their knowledge of their unit's incident reporting system; whether they would report a series of 10 designated adverse obstetric incidents to the risk manager; and their views on 12 potential reasons for not reporting incidents. Most staff knew about the incident-reporting system in their unit, but almost 30% did not know how to find a list of reportable incidents. Views on the necessity of reporting the 10 designated obstetric incidents varied considerably. For example, 96% of staff stated they would always report a maternal death, whereas less than 40% would report a baby's unexpected admission to the Special Care Baby Unit. Midwives said they were more likely to report incidents than doctors, and junior staff were more likely to report than senior staff. The main reasons for not reporting were fears that junior staff would be blamed, high workload and the belief (even though the incident was designated as reportable) that the circumstances or outcome of a particular case did not warrant a report. Junior doctors felt less supported by their colleagues than senior doctors. Current systems of incident reporting, while providing some valuable information, do not provide a reliable index of the rate of adverse incidents. Recommended measures to increase reliability include clearer definitions of incidents, simplified methods of reporting, designated staff to record incidents and education, feedback and reassurance to staff about the nature and purpose of such systems.

Original publication




Journal article


J Eval Clin Pract

Publication Date





13 - 21


Attitude of Health Personnel, Humans, Iatrogenic Disease, Medical Errors, Medical Staff, Hospital, Midwifery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital, Risk Management, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom