How Well Are Patients Able to Identify Medical Errors?

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<p>As many as two of five U.S. adults have reported that they or a loved one has experienced a medical injury. But how well are patients--or their family members--able to identify medical injuries or even understand clinical terms like "medical error" or "adverse event?"<br><br>In a <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=28120&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D480255%26%23doc480255">Commonwealth Fund-supported study</a> of patient-reported medical errors, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute interviewed oncology patients treated on a chemotherapy infusion unit. They found that although one of five patients reported an unsafe experience, only 31 percent of these patients actually identified a close call, medical error, or injury.<br><br>Instead, the researchers categorized most reports as service quality problems: long waits, miscommunication with clinicians, or dissatisfaction with the environment and amenities. "Patients may perceive that these inconveniences signal problems with the overall process of care," write the authors, and conclude that the link between safety and service quality merits further study.</p>