While the majority of physicians believe that reporting errors improves the quality of care, only about half knew how to report errors and even fewer knew what type of errors to report, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers found that most physicians would report a hypothetical error but that only 18% of doctors had reported an actual minor error, and only about 4% had reported an actual major error that resulted in disability or death. In addition, the authors found that about 17% of physicians acknowledged not reporting an actual minor error and that about 4% let actual major errors go unreported.
The study called for greater efforts by health care institutions to teach doctors how to report errors and to highlight the link between error-reporting and improved health care quality. In addition, researchers urged institutions to promote patient-centered ethical values that they said might motivate physicians to report errors (Kaldjian et al., Archives of Internal Medicine, 1/14).