What is a Medical Incident Report?

A medical incident report is an accurate, clear, timely, and well-detailed report that provides sufficient information on the chain of circumstances or events that led up to an adverse event that unexpectedly occurs in a healthcare establishment like a clinic, hospital, aging care service facility, ambulatory care facility, and mental health institution.  It is a critical communication tool that helps hospital staff members such as nurses, physicians, pharmacists, medical secretaries, and other hospital employees, as well as family members, patients, visitors, and many others to identify and record the root causes of the incident such as communication issues, improper medical procedures, or insufficient staffing. Structuring this report is vital so that the clinicians and medical managers are able to investigate the medical incident and maintain records as references.

According to a 2021 report, the healthcare and social assistance sector has the highest rate of respiratory illnesses in 2021 with 99.2 cases per 10,000 FTE workers. It shows that a 52.7% lower rate than in 2020 when the rate was 209.8 cases per 10,000 FTE workers. On the other hand, a 2022 statistical report stated that 27% of COVID-19 cyberattacks target healthcare organizations and confirmed data breaches in the healthcare industry increased by 58% in 2020. These are some examples of medical incidents that occur in the past years. Thus, all healthcare providers, medical professionals, and individuals like patients, family members, and visitors should use a health and safety inspection checklist as they create a clear and cohesive medical incident report. 

Different Types of Medical Incident Reports

There are wide-ranging types of hospital and traffic incident report forms out there that are used by many clinicians, nurses, physicians, other healthcare staff members, management personnel, and individuals involved in a medical incident. Be knowledgeable about the different types of medical incident reports so that you can be effective in filing medical errors and problems to improve patient safety. 

1. Nursing Staff Incident Report

A nursing staff incident report is a type of medical incident and nursing report that must be filed when a nurse or any member of the hospital community observes a lapse in proper conduct within the healthcare facility. The occurrence of unprofessional conduct must be reported directly to a supervisor using an incident report form. All medical incident reports of improper or disruptive conduct submitted by the nursing staff or other employees in the hospital will be investigated according to the policies of the healthcare organization. It contains important details of the incident such as the date, time, and location of the incident, the name of the individual engaging in improper conduct, the names of the other parties involved in the incident, and the description of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the specific behavior observed.

2. Medical Treatment Incident Report

Incident reporting for medical treatment ensures there is a record on file with the employer. If an employee is injured or develops a job-related illness that gradually developed over a certain period of time as a result of their employment at the company, they need to complete and submit the medical treatment incident report. If the employee is unable to fill up the medical incident form, the supervisor should fill up the document on their behalf. Typically, it contains information about the employee such as the full name, home address, home phone number, work hours and shift, department name, job title, work phone number, other employment details if applicable, date and time of the incident, and the description of what the employee is doing and all injured body parts. Also, take note of the initial medical treatment provided.

3. Physical Therapy Medical Incident Report

A physical therapy medical incident report is completed on the patient of physical therapy to indicate a specific incident that took place. For example, physical therapists use therapeutic dry needling to treat pain and increase the range of motion in injured patients. When it is performed improperly or in an unsterile manner, there are possible risks and side effects that can cause serious and life-threatening harm such as extensive bruising, severe nausea, vomiting, pneumothorax, and puncture of other vital tissue or organ. For this report, outline the office information, patient information, and incident information.

4. Serious Injury Medical Incident Report

A study conducted in California focused on ameliorable adverse outcomes or adverse outcomes due to negligence to patients in the course of health care management and reported 4.65 injuries to patients per 100 hospitalizations. Also, subsequent studies have consistently found that 10%-12% of patients experience harm while hospitalized. When medical incidents led to serious injury, it is important to make an accurate medical incident report. Describe the circumstances of the incident and the mechanism of injury if known.

Benefits of Medical Incident Reports

Healthcare staff tends not to report mistakes or near misses because they fear that if they do, they will be blamed and punished. However, incident violation report of medical accidents and other issues is fundamental to set up effective procedures which act as barriers to prevent mistakes. Also, senior staff and clinical management must trust the team to exercise due vigilance, attend training, and report issues when they happen.

Have Records of Medical Incidents for Big-Picture Analysis: Creating a medical incident report is important for health care and medical facilities to have comprehensive records of incidents that can be used for various purposes like the medical analysis. For example, the medical errors that impact the health of the patients indicated in the incident report may increase the risk of legal action, so the report can also be used to defend against lawsuits. Improve Patient Safety Medical incident reports containing all adverse incidents and near misses are useful because these tools guide doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers to be prepared and ensure the safety of the patient and become committed to putting patient-centered or person-centered care first. For example, if the medical staff are aware of what kind of problems are occurring and how often they happen through the medical incident reports, it is possible to design efficient systems which will make health care safer. Make Safe and Effective Medical Services: This document is used with a healthcare operational plan to put proper medical services, clinical procedures, and health care systems in place which help to protect against similar issues and errors occurring in the future. The senior medical team, nursing staff, and management personnel obtain necessary information from medical incident reports to make medical services safer. Assess Health Problems: Healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, and medical supervisors use this report to identify the needs of the patient, or the person involved in an accident and assess their injuries. It contains a description and a medical case summary of what happened to the injured person. The doctor collects data from the medical incident report to detect the issue and provide necessary medical treatment based on the needs and health condition of the patient. The medical staff who speak up when they notice unsafe conditions or inefficiencies record the incident to improve work conditions in the facility. Revise Ineffective Medical Procedures and Equipment: Due to the fast-changing development of medical technologies nowadays, there are some ineffective and old medical procedures that must be revised or updated. Those procedures may affect the treatment and safety of the patients as critical medical incidents may lead to dangers and disasters. A medical incident report provides details regarding what type of medical procedure and how it was carried out by the doctor or surgeon to the patient.

How to Write a Medical Incident Report

A national health institution believed that a serious adverse event or critical medical incident takes place in up to 10% of all hospital admissions, which means about 850,000 adverse events per year. Those incidents cost billions every year in increased hospital costs, treatments, and litigation. Despite the difficulties in the healthcare and medical sector around the world, it is integral for healthcare providers and individuals to use a medical incident report along with a health and safety audit checklist to have the best insight into whether certain processes are actually working and prevent risks.

Step 1: Write the Basic Information

The needs for incident reporting for healthcare and medical institutions may vary by organization. But writing the basic information regarding the person involved in the incident is generally required. Include the name of the patient, date of birth, hospital ID number, names of any other affected individuals like staff or visitors, date, time and location of the incident, name, and address of the medical facility where the incident happened, and the type of incident (e.g., equipment failure, medication error).

Step 2: Describe the Incident

Create a short and factual description of the incident. It must be written in chronological order. Identify the name of the witness and their contact details such as cellphone number and email address. Add the details and total cost of the damage or injury, if any. Define the action taken at the time. Then, include the name of the physician or the medical staff who was notified of the incident and the name and contact details of the person reporting the incident.

Step 3: Focus on Facts

The medical incident report should aim on presenting clear facts. Provide comprehensive details of your direct observations, actions taken, the provided assistance, and communications. Describe specifically what you saw when you arrived on the scene or what the witnesses noticed from the incident. Add direct quotes and statements from the patient and other parties involved in the event.

Step 4: Review the Information

After describing the incident, review the information you included in the medical incident report. Skim the document and see if you forget important details that should be displayed in the report. Edit and revise the report immediately as you add all the core points of the incident.

Step 5: Finalize the Medical Incident Report

Check the format and outline of the medical incident report. After proofreading and revision of your document, you can now finalize the medical incident report. You can use manual or electronic incident reporting using incident management software available in your healthcare facility.


What are some examples of medical incident reports?

Some examples of medical incident reports are medical school incident reports, medical nursing staff incident reports, employee medical incident reports, patient medical incident reports, medical work incident reports, medical emergency incident reports, medical treatment incident reports, fire medical department incident reports, physical therapy medical incident reports, and serious injury medical incident reports. 

What are the common types of incident reports?

The common types of incident reports are workplace incident reports, accident or first aid reports, safety and security incident reports, and exposure incident reports. 

How to write an incident report in healthcare?

When writing an incident report in healthcare, specify the name of the patient, hospital number, and date of birth. Indicate the date, time, and location of the incident. Add a brief and factual description of the incident. Also, include the name and contact information of any witnesses. Describe the harm caused, if any and the action performed at the time.

What is the purpose of a medical incident report?

The purpose of a medical incident report is a beneficial document included in a health and safety coordination plan. It draws attention to a specific incident to prevent future incidents or lower the likelihood that future incidents will take place.

Why is creating a medical incident report important for healthcare organizations?

Creating a medical incident report is important because it aims to improve patient safety and care quality. It is a crucial report that identifies safety hazards and guides the development of interventions to mitigate risks in order to reduce harm. Plus, it assists the staff in determining and modifying the individual or system-level factors related to medical errors.

Nurse managers, front-line nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and other medical staff members, as well as other employees, family members, or visitors, use a medical incident report to record the adverse event or incident that happened to promote the safety of everyone in the medical school, hospital, and any healthcare institution. Encourage clinicians and other people to report medical incidents to drive continuous improvement efforts, enhance clinical risk management, and reduce costs. So, here are some of our blank, sample, and printable medical incident report templates and health information reports available in PDF formats such as patient medical incident report templates, formal medical incident review report templates, and standard medical incident report form templates.