Medical students' perceptions of a novel institutional incident reporting system : A thematic analysis

Gordon, Morris orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1216-5158 and Parakh, Dillon (2017) Medical students' perceptions of a novel institutional incident reporting system : A thematic analysis. Perspectives on Medical Education, 6 (5). pp. 331-336. ISSN 2212-2761

[thumbnail of Version of Record]
PDF (Version of Record) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:


Errors in healthcare are a major patient safety issue, with incident reporting a key solution. The incident reporting system has been integrated within a new medical curriculum, encouraging medical students to take part in this key safety process. The aim of this study was to describe the system and assess how students perceived the reporting system with regards to its role in enhancing safety. Employing a thematic analysis, this study used interviews with medical students at the end of the first year. Thematic indices were developed according to the information emerging from the data. Through open, axial and then selective stages of coding, an understanding of how the system was perceived was established. Analysis of the interview specified five core themes: (1) Aims of the incident reporting system; (2) internalized cognition of the system; (3) the impact of the reporting system; (4) threshold for reporting; (5) feedback on the systems operation. Selective analysis revealed three overriding findings: lack of error awareness and error wisdom as underpinned by key theoretical constructs, student support of the principle of safety, and perceptions of a blame culture. Students did not interpret reporting as a manner to support institutional learning and safety, rather many perceived it as a tool for a blame culture. The impact reporting had on students was unexpected and may give insight into how other undergraduates and early graduates interpret such a system. Future studies should aim to produce interventions that can support a reporting culture.

Repository Staff Only: item control page