LabCIRS – a Laboratory Critical Incident and Error Reporting System for preclinical research

The LabCIRS (Laboratory Critical Incident and Error Reporting System) is an anonymous error reporting system that was developed by the Department of Experimental Neurology at the Charité together with the QUEST Center at the BIH and is made available to the Charité - as well as to the entire scientific community.

The reporting of critical incidents in clinical medicine has long been an internationally recognized instrument for improving patient safety, which is required by law in many countries. The basic principle of CIR (Critical Incident Reporting) in clinical medicine is that safety can be improved by learning from incidents that could have harmed or have harmed patients instead of ignoring such incidents.

In basic biomedical research, there has been a complete lack of such a concept, although in the complex environment of a research laboratory with its state-of-the-art machinery, multi-professional and often international staff with different expertise, complicated assays and potentially harmful chemicals, a number of critical incidents and errors can occur. These have the potential to negatively affect data integrity, experimental results, animal welfare, personnel safety, or the integrity of expensive reagents or machines. Unfortunately, these errors and critical events of variable severity are currently reported only sporadically or not at all. Sometimes such events are even hushed up for fear of negative consequences.

With the development of the LabCIRS, we provide researchers with structured measures for recording, analyzing, reporting and ultimately also for avoiding critical incidents in experimental biomedicine. The software is managed on an internal server at the Charité, so that the program can be accessed from any computer within the Charité Intranet using a web browser. Each interested laboratory of the Charité can request its own access, which is managed by itself under its own responsibility. Thus, LabCIRS functions in each laboratory or in each department as an independent error reporting system, in which the reported critical events and errors are only processed within the respective organization (e.g. working group or department).

The success of the LabCIRS depends essentially on maintaining anonymity and confidentiality. This concerns both the identity of the reporting party as well as the identity of the persons involved in the specific CIRS case. The protection of the identities of these persons therefore has absolute priority. For this reason, each participating institution is assigned a general user account, which all employees use equally for registering and writing error reports. The LabCIRS area is administered by one person, the "reviewer"; this person can be a scientific employee, a laboratory manager or another person. The reviewer will be informed about incoming error reports via e-mail. He or she assesses the incoming error reports and, if necessary, takes appropriate (immediate) action.

Access to LabCIRS for laboratories at the Charité

LabCIRS can be assessed in the intranet of the Charité. Employees of the Charité can apply for access via the button "Register".

The development of LabCIRS as open-source software was financed by the Charité Foundation. The source code is available on GitHub.

The QUEST Center at BIH is responsible for the service. The original LabCIRS publication can be found in PLOS Biology. An article on this topic by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl can be found in the Laborjournal

Questions can be directed to: labcirs-admin@charite.de.