Reporting an incident or accident

During your work as a health care assistant, it’s possible that you’ll witness some untoward event – a patient/client tripping and falling, someone reporting lost property, or a relative or carer complaining to you about some aspect of their loved one’s care. Very rarely, you might witness something happening that is not only serious, but is also distressing – someone being verbally abused or even assaulted, for instance.

All of these kinds of events will require an accident or incident report to be filed. Health care organisations usually have specific forms that are used in these instances – you’ll need to find out which forms are used in your workplace. You can only contribute to an accident or incident form if you actually witnessed the event or were present when it was discovered. You can’t fill the form in on behalf of someone else. If you are submitting or contributing to the writing of an accident or incident report, you should generally follow the principles of record-keeping that we set out for you previously. In addition, you should complete all of the questions/boxes in the report form – if a question in the form doesn’t really fit (for instance, you might be asked to ‘list any injuries’ when the incident is about stolen property), write ‘not applicable’ or an equivalent response.

Very rarely, staff are asked by managers to complete a statement in relation to an accident or incident, particularly if the event is likely to lead to legal action or even criminal prosecution. If you’re asked to supply such a statement (which must be requested from you within 21 days of the incident occurring), you should:

  • think very carefully about what you are going to write
  • follow the general principles of record-keeping and written communication
  • ask your RCN representative or another person you trust to advise you on what to write.

You can see some sample accident and incident forms at the Health and Safety Executive website.

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