In-patient studies that compared an automated harm detection method with an alternative method of harm detection and measured actual harm were eligible for inclusion.
Studies were conducted in adults, children, geriatric patients and all age groups. Where reported, study settings included general medical units, general surgical units, intensive care units, medical subspecialties, neonatal and paediatric intensive care units and obstetric units. Most studies assessed field-defined systems (which relied on computerised detection using pre-existing numeric or coded data stored in medical records) and a small number of studies assessed natural language processing (computerised analysis of free text within a medical record to detect language indicative of harm), some in combination with field-defined systems. Systems were either fully or partially automated. Studies aimed to assess adverse drug events, general adverse events, nosocomial infection or other specific adverse events (such as decubitus ulcers, surgical complications).
The authors did not state how studies were selected for inclusion in the review.