Providers don't report errors, fearing embarrassment, trouble

Even though 90 percent of providers witness near-misses or errors, most clinicians don't report them because they are embarrassed and don't want to cause trouble, according to a new survey by Johns Hopkins.

Researchers asked physicians, nurses, radiation physicists, and other radiation specialists at Johns Hopkins, North Shore- Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and the University of Miami in an anonymous email survey if and why they avoided online error reporting. Although respondents generally felt that it was their responsibility to report such near-misses or errors, nurses and physicians didn't report often, whereas physicists, dosimetrists, and radiation therapists did report more often, according to a Monday press release.

"Respondents recognized that error events should be reported and that they should claim responsibility for them. The barriers we identified are not insurmountable," said Dr. Kendra Harris in the press release.

To improve on reporting rates, Harris encouraged organizations to promote it as quality improvment tools, not punitive assessments. Also, she recommended that online reporting systems be simple to use.

"It is important to understand the specific reasons why fewer physicians participate in these reporting systems so that hospitals can work to close this gap. Reporting is not an end in itself. It helps identify potential hazards, and each member of the health care team brings a perspective that can help make patients safer," she said.

For more information:
- read the Johns Hopkins news brief

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