Learning from Adverse Events in Obstetrics: Is a Standardized Computer Tool an Effective Strategy for Root Cause Analysis?

Beth Murray-Davis, Helen McDonald, Fiona Cross-Sudworth, Rashid Ahmed, Julia Simioni, Sharon Dore, Michael Marrin, Judy DeSantis, Nicholas Leyland, Jason Gardosi, Eileen Hutton, Sarah McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Adverse events occur in up to 10% of obstetric cases, and up to one half of these could be prevented Case reviews and root cause analysis using a structured tool may help health care providers to learn from adverse events and to identify trends and recurring systems issues We sought to establish the reliability of a root cause analysis computer application called Standardized Clinical Outcome Review (SCOR).

Methods: We designed a mixed methods study to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool. We conducted qualitative content analysis of five charts reviewed by both the traditional obstetric quality assurance methods and the SCOR tool. We also determined inter-rater reliability by having four health care providers review the same five cases using the SCOR tool.

Results: The comparative qualitative review revealed that the traditional quality assurance case review process used inconsistent language and made serious, personalized recommendations for those involved in the case. In contrast, the SCOR review provided a consistent format for recommendations, a list of action points, and highlighted systems issues The mean percentage agreement between the four reviewers for the five cases was 75%. The different health care providers completed data entry and assessment of the case in a similar way Missing data from the chart and poor wording of questions were identified as issues affecting percentage agreement.

Conclusion: The SCOR tool provides a standardized, objective, obstetric-specific tool for root cause analysis that may improve identification of risk factors and dissemination of action plans to prevent future events
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-735
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • root cause analysis
  • quality assurance
  • mixed methods


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