Serious preventable surgical events still occur despite considerable efforts to improve patient safety. In addition to learning from retrospective analyses, prospective risk‐assessment methods may help to decrease preventable events further by targeting perioperative hazards. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the methods used to identify perioperative patient safety risks prospectively, and to describe the risk areas targeted, the quality characteristics and feasibility of methods.
MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were searched, adhering to PRISMA guidelines. All studies describing the development and results of prospective methods to identify perioperative patient safety risks were included and assessed on methodological quality. Exclusion criteria were interventional studies, studies targeting one specific issue, studies reporting on structural factors relating to fundamental hospital items, and non‐original or case studies.
The electronic search resulted in 16 708 publications, but only 20 were included for final analysis, describing five prospective risk‐assessment methods. Direct observation was used in most studies, often in combination. Direct (16 studies) and indirect (4 studies) observations identified (potential) adverse events (P)AEs, process flow disruptions, poor protocol compliance and poor practice performance. (Modified) Healthcare Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (HFMEA™) (5 studies) targeted potential process flow disruption failures, and direct (P)AE surveillance (3 studies) identified (P)AEs prospectively. Questionnaires (3 studies) identified poor protocol compliance, surgical flow disturbances and patients' willingness to ask questions about their care. Overall, quality characteristics and feasibility of the methods were poorly reported.