Ventilator-related adverse events: A taxonomy and findings from 3 incident reporting systems

Julius Cuong, Tamara L. Williams, Erin M. Sparnon, Tam K. Cillie, Hilda F. Scharen, William M. Marella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In 2009, researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality; public agencies, including the FDA; and private partners, including the Emergency Care Research Institute and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Safety Intelligence Patient Safety Organization, sought to form a public-private partnership for the promotion of patient safety (P5S) to advance patient safety through voluntary partnerships. The study objective was to test the concept of the P5S to advance our understanding of safety issues related to ventilator events, to develop a common classification system for categorizing adverse events related to mechanical ventilators, and to perform a comparison of adverse events across different adverse event reporting systems. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of ventilator- related adverse events reported in 2012 from the following incident reporting systems: the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority’s Patient Safety Reporting System, UHC’s Safety Intelligence Patient Safety Organization database, and the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database. Once each organization had its dataset of ventilator-related adverse events, reviewers read the narrative descriptions of each event and classified it according to the developed common taxonomy. RESULTS: A Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, FDA, and UHC search provided 252, 274, and 700 relevant reports, respectively. The 3 event types most commonly reported to the UHC and the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority’s Patient Safety Reporting System databases were airway/breathing circuit issue, human factor issues, and ventilator malfunction events. The top 3 event types reported to the FDA were ventilator malfunction, power source issue, and alarm failure. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we found that (1) through the development of a common taxonomy, adverse events from 3 reporting systems can be evaluated, (2) the types of events reported in each database were related to the purpose of the database and the source of the reports, resulting in significant differences in reported event categories across the 3 systems, and (3) a public-private collaboration for investigating ventilator-related adverse events under the P5S model is feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-631
Number of pages11
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Adverse events
  • Common taxonomy
  • Human factors
  • Patient safety
  • Public-private partnership
  • Ventilator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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