Medical Errors: Doctors want to report their mistakes...

February 15, 2008

To improve patient safety, most physicians responding to a new study agreed that they should report medical errors to their hospital or healthcare organization.

To improve patient safety, most physicians responding to a new study agreed that they should report medical errors to their hospital or healthcare organization. However, doctors feel that the current systems used to report and share information about errors are inadequate. Instead, they often rely on informal discussions with their colleagues to convey and assess these incidents, according to the study, which was funded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and appears in the January/February issue of Health Affairs.

A full 83 percent of the study's 1,000 respondents-physicians and surgeons from Missouri and Washington state-said they had used at least one formal error-reporting mechanism. The most commonly used methods were reporting the mistake to Risk Management or completing an incident report. More distressing was the fact that few doctors believed that they had access to a reporting system designed to protect patients, and nearly half (45 percent) had no clue whether their organization had one in place.

...but insurers won't pay for them