Study: Doctors don't like error-reporting systems

A new study suggests that reducing medical error rates may require both a change in medical culture and a redesign of reporting systems. According to the study, which appears this month in the journal Health Affairs, most physicians see error-reporting systems as inadequate. Rather than engage in the expected formal process, they generally discuss problems with their colleagues instead--a reaction which deprives healthcare organizations of important knowledge, said researchers. 

In the study, which surveyed roughly 1,100 doctors in Missouri and Washington state between July 2003 and March 2004, 56 percent admitted to having been part of a serious medical error, 74 percent with a minor error, and 66 percent with a near miss. While the physicians said that they felt such errors were generally failures of systems, not individuals, few believed that using the error reporting systems in place could actually improve safety. It sounds like there's some critical discussions to be had among health administrators and doctors on this subject; if doctors don't believe reporting will do any good, that's likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To find out more about the study:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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