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Patient error: a preliminary taxonomy

Buetow, Stephen, Kiata, Liz, Liew, Tess, Kenealy, Tim, Dovey, Susan and Elwyn, Glyn 2009. Patient error: a preliminary taxonomy. The Annals of Family Medicine 7 (3) , pp. 223-231. 10.1370/afm.941

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PURPOSE Current research on errors in health care focuses almost exclusively on system and clinician error. It tends to exclude how patients may create errors that infl uence their health. We aimed to identify the types of errors that patients can contribute and help manage, especially in primary care. METHODS Eleven nominal group interviews of patients and primary health care professionals were held in Auckland, New Zealand, during late 2007. Group members reported and helped to classify types of potential error by patients. We synthesized the ideas that emerged from the nominal groups into a taxonomy of patient error. RESULTS Our taxonomy is a 3-level system encompassing 70 potential types of patient error. The fi rst level classifi es 8 categories of error into 2 main groups: action errors and mental errors. The action errors, which result in part or whole from patient behavior, are attendance errors, assertion errors, and adherence errors. The mental errors, which are errors in patient thought processes, comprise memory errors, mindfulness errors, misjudgments, and—more distally— knowledge defi cits and attitudes not conducive to health. CONCLUSION The taxonomy is an early attempt to understand and recognize how patients may err and what clinicians should aim to infl uence so they can help patients act safely. This approach begins to balance perspectives on error but requires further research. There is a need to move beyond seeing patient, clinician, and system errors as separate categories of error. An important next step may be research that attempts to understand how patients, clinicians, and systems interact to cocreate and reduce errors.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.
ISSN: 1544-1709
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:49

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