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Physicians Want to Learn From Medical Mistakes But Say Current Error-Reporting Systems are Inadequate
Date:1/9/2008

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The perception that U.S. doctors are unwilling to report medical errors and learn how to prevent them is untrue, according to a new study funded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Because most doctors think that current systems to report and share information about errors are inadequate, they rely instead on informal discussions with their colleagues. Consequently, important information about medical errors and how to prevent them often is not shared with the hospital or the health care organization, according to the study, which appears in the January/February issue of Health Affairs. As a result, such information is not aggregated for analysis and systematic improvement.

"These findings shed light on an important question - how to create error-reporting programs that will encourage clinician participation," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Physicians say they want to learn from errors that take place in their institution to improve patient safety. We need to build on that willingness with error-reporting programs that encourage their participation."

To assess physicians' attitudes about communicating errors with their colleagues and health care organizations, the study authors used a 68-question survey to poll a geographically diverse group of more than 1,000 physicians and surgeons currently practicing in rural and urban areas in Missouri and Washington State. The survey was conducted between July 2003 and March 2004.

Doctors were asked about their attitudes toward and experience with communicating about errors with both their health care organizations and their colleagues. Most physicians reported that they had been involved in an error -- 56 percent reported a prior involvement with a serious error, 74 percent with a minor error and 66 percent with a near miss. More than half (54 percent) agreed with the statement that "medical errors
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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