How to Write Incident Reports (with Samples)

When something bad happens in the workplace, employers usually want to know the details of how it happened in order to make decisions and appropriate actions regarding the matter. This is important, especially when considering the liabilities of the workers involved and how similar incidents can be avoided. It is, therefore, critical to write an accurate report about the incident for proper documentation. But how can you write a good incident report to cover all the facts? Here are a guide on how to make a good documentation and 3 samples to enlighten you.

How to Write a Good Incident Report

Before we show you an incident report sample, let's first study the characteristics of an effective incident report and how to write it.

1. An Incident Report Must Be Accurate and Specific

When you write an incident report, you must be specific and accurate about the details, not merely descriptive. For example, instead of writing "the old patient", it is more accurate to describe him as "the 76-year old male patient".

Good grammar, which includes correct word choice and proper punctuation, is important to make your incident report clear, accurate and professional. It is also best to write in an active voice, which is more powerful and interesting than the passive voice.

2. A Good Incident Report Must Be Factual and Objective

Sometimes people tend to talk about their opinions and beliefs, rather than stating the facts. If you must include an opinion in your report, it is best to state it with the similar description that appears on some incident report samples: "In my opinion, there were too many people in the overloaded bus. In fact, there were 80 persons inside, when a bus of this size is only allowed to carry 70 individuals."

Besides, you must avoid including words that might connote something that changes the tone of your report. If you have to include statements from a witness or other people, you must clarify that you are quoting someone, and the words you used are not your own.

3. A Good Incident Report Must Be Complete and Concise

State all facts regarding who, what, when, where, how and why something happened without leaving out important details. Another person who reads the report must be able to get answers to his or her questions about the incident from your report. How many details to include may depend on their relevance to the incident and the policies of your department.

Your incident report may be needed in court someday and you should be prepared to be questioned based on your report. So the more details you have on your report, the less you have to depend on your memory and the more credible you are. However, confidential details must not be made public, such as a patient's personal information, which must be written somewhere safe.

4. A Good Incident Report Must Be Well-Organized

An incident report should be easily understood and not be confusing to the reader. How a report is organized depends on the complexity of the incident and the type of report being written. Usually, writing in chronological order is the simplest way to organize a report. However, an inspection incident report may be written by enumerating details according to findings.

5. A Good Incident Report Must Be Clear

Your incident report must be clear and do not contain ambiguities. It's a clear report if different people read the same report and come up with similar interpretations. Aside from writing in detail, you can also use sketches, diagrams and photos to complete your report.

6. A Good Incident Report Must Only Include Proper Abbreviations

The use of abbreviations may be appropriate in certain cases, such as the use of Dr. Brown and Mr. Green, instead of writing Doctor or Mister. However, it is not proper to write something like "I talked to the dr. (doctor) about what I should say to the pt. (patient)."

3 Different Incident Report Samples

Here are three different incident report forms for you and try to fill in by yourself. When you do this, please bear all the 6 rules above in mind.

Laboratory Incident Report

Hospital Incident Report

Client Incident Report 

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