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Using Focus Groups to Understand Physicians' and Nurses' Perspectives on Error Reporting in Hospitals

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Abstract:

Background: To increase error reporting, a better understanding of physicians' and nurses' perspectives regarding medical error reporting in hospitals, barriers to reporting, and possible ways to increase reporting is necessary.

Methods: Nine focus groups—four with 49 staff nurses, two with 10 nurse managers, and three with 30 physicians—from 20 academic and community hospitals were conducted in May–June 2002 in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Qualitative analysis of focus group transcripts characterized participants' perspectives.

Results: Although participants knew they should report errors associated with serious adverse events, there was much uncertainty about reporting less serious errors or near misses. Nurses were more knowledgeable than physicians about how to report errors. All groups mentioned barriers to reporting, such as fear of reprisals and lack of confidentiality, time, and feedback after an error is reported. Some physicians doubted the benefit of reporting errors, but, generally, both physicians and nurses agreed that reporting was intended to change practice and policy to promote patient safety.

Conclusions: A culture characterized by anonymous reporting, freedom from repercussions, and feedback about error reports should promote error reporting.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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