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Study finds a wide variety of errors in testing process at family medicine clinics
Date:8/13/2008

nd administrative errors (17.6%) were the next most common.

Test implementation errors were nearly double for minority groups, at 32 percent versus 18 percent for non-Hispanic whites. The investigators believe this may reflect difficulties with transportation to the testing site or lack of insurance to pay for the test.

A quarter of the errors resulted in delays in care for patients, and 13 percent caused pain, suffering or a definite adverse clinical consequence. Eighteen percent resulted in harm.

"One of the most striking and disturbing findings was that minority patients were nearly three times more likely to experience adverse consequences," Hickner said, and twice as likely to experience physical harm from errors.

The researchers reported considerable variation in the types of errors reported from each practice. "While significant physical harm was rare, adverse consequences for patients were common," Hickner observed. "This study strongly supports the need for office-by-office improvements in the overall testing process within primary care."

Although this study was not designed to determine the true error rate, "testing-process errors appear to be common," the authors conclude. "Since many errors are undetected or unreported, we can assume this is an extreme lower bound."

An accompanying paper in the same journal from the same study looked at how often harm to patients was prevented or reduced by early detection and intervention. About 25 percent of the errors were discovered in time for an intervention, usually by physicians. "This demonstrates the continuing importance of people," the authors note, "and cautions against the over-reliance on current technological systems."


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Contact: Suzanne Wilder
Suzanne.Wilder@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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