Office-Based Medical Errors Need Reporting System: Nonpunitive Approach Backed

Article excerpt

Arlington, VA. -- The outpatient primary care setting needs a system of reporting medical errors separate from those for hospital reporting, Dr. John W. Beasley said at a meeting sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network.

Most of the discussion about medical errors and reporting systems have centered on hospitals and not on office- or clinic based primary care settings, said Dr. Beasley, professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He argued that not only are primary care settings likely to have more hazards and make more errors than hospitals, they also are likely to make different types of errors and require different solutions.

or clinic-based
physicians probably
make different errors
and require different
kinds of solutions
than do physicians
in hospitals.

A focus group of eight family physicians from the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians' Research Network met via nine teleconferences during a 9-month period to discuss aspects of a medical error reporting system. To obtain a diversity of opinions, the researchers stratified the physicians they contacted on the basis of their practice location (rural vs. urban) and their level of experience, said lead investigator BenTzion Karsh, Ph.D., of the department of industrial engineering at the university.

Similarly, a separate focus group of six clinical assistants (nurses and medical assistants) in Wisconsin met seven times via teleconference in the same period to determine what characteristics a primary care medical reporting system would need to be effective and useful.

Dr. Beasley presented the primary conclusions of the focus groups:

* No punishment or sanctions. Participants felt that organizations should be held accountable within the health care system for implementing hazard control methods that have been found to reduce the likelihood of errors. …


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