Malpractice and patient safety descriptors: an innovative grid to evaluate the quality of clinical records

  • Anna Santa Guzzo
  • Mario Tecca
  • Enrico Marinelli
  • Caterina Palazzo
  • Paolo Ursillo
  • Claudio Bontempi
  • Arianna Di Nezza
  • Domenica Patrizia Sposato
  • Giuseppe Ferro
  • Anna Maria Lombardi
  • Amalia Allocca
  • Maria De Giusti
Keywords: malpractice, medical records, risk assessment, quality care


Introduction: The medical record contains all the health information related to the patient’s clinical condition and its evolution during
hospitalization. It was defined by the Italian Ministry of Health in 1992 as "The information tool designed to record all relevant
demographic and clinical information about a patient during a single episode of hospitalization". The documents and information in a
Medical Record must meet the following criteria: traceability, clarity, accuracy, authenticity, pertinence and completeness. The objectives of
our study was to develop a tool capable of assessing the quality of the clinical record and pointed the critical point at the Organizational,
Technical - Professional, Managerial level.
Methods: To evaluate the quality of the medical documentation, we created an assessment grid composed of 4 sections with a total of 92
criteria. This grid was tested on 200 medical records that were randomly selected from 25 (18 medical and 7 surgical) wards of a teaching
hospital in Rome.
Results: The grid contains 4 sections. The first part regards administrative and clinical data; the second assesses the quality of hospital stay
and surgical/invasive procedures; the third part is concerned with the discharge of the patient and the fourth aims to identify the presence of
advisory reports given to the patient.
This grid has been validated to verify internal consistency with Cronbach's Alpha = 0,743.
Conclusions: Medical records were analyzed using a validated tool with grids to identify critical issues in care activities. Weaknesses in the
system were identified in order to improve planning. The sample testing also in terms of ‘self-assessment' represents a tool to introduce
activities to improve safety and quality of care, greatly reducing the costs of litigation.