BACKGROUND: Critical care environments are potentially high-risk areas for staff harm due to procedural demand and increased incidence of delirium/dependence. The principal types of harm and temporal trends have not yet been quantified.
METHODS: Retrospective analysis of a multicentre dataset prospectively collected over a five-year period. All patient safety incidents reported to a regional network project were analysed; those recorded as staff harm were extracted, quantified and assessed by thematic analysis to identify key areas of harm, temporal trends and incident rates.
RESULTS: Staff harm accounted for 7% of all reported patient safety incidents over the study period. Incident rates remained static, ranging annually from 2.6 to 3.7 episodes/1000 patient days. Assaults on staff accounted for the highest proportional contribution on thematic analysis, which was a consistent annual finding. Sharps injuries and manual handling incidents were also notable contributions. Temporal trends for each theme remained static over the study period implying limited reduction in staff harm despite implementation of national guidance and local initiatives.
CONCLUSION: Staff harm is a consistent issue for those working in critical care. Assaults on staff appear to be the highest contributor on thematic analysis. These data imply significant reduction in harm can still be achieved and can be used to design and implement interventional measures.