Profiles in patient safety: When an error occurs

Cherri Hobgood, Armando Hevia, Paul Hinchey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Medical error is now clearly established as one of the most significant problems facing the American health care system. Anecdotal evidence, studies of human cognition, and analysis of high-reliability organizations all predict that despite excellent training, human error is unavoidable. When an error occurs and is recognized, providers have a duty to disclose the error. Yet disclosure of error to patients, families, and hospital colleagues is a difficult and/or threatening process for most physicians. A more thorough understanding of the ethical and social contract between physicians and their patients as well as the professional milieu surrounding an error may improve the likelihood of its disclosure. Key among these is the identification of institutional factors that support disclosure and recognize error as an unavoidable part of the practice of medicine. Using a case-based format, this article focuses on the communication of error with patients, families, and colleagues and grounds error disclosure in the cultural milieu of medial ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-770
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • error disclosure
  • medical error
  • patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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