Reducing medical errors: a practical guide

Med J Aust. 2000 Sep;173(5):247-51. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2000.tb125630.x.


Healthcare delivery involves complex systems Preventable injuries occur more frequently than in other complex industries. Clinical risk management aims to reduce the probability of adverse patient events occurring. Adverse events can be detected by medical record review, clinical incident reporting and other methods. Events are analysed to determine latent and active errors and ranked in order of risk severity. Action is then planned and implemented to prevent the event from recurring. Effective actions include simplifying systems, standardising procedures, introducing constraints, using reminders and checklists, providing timely information, and small-group interactive education. Organisational factors that may increase the probability of successfully reducing medical errors in hospitals include the availability of adequate resources and education, the presence of clinical, executive and board of management quality champions, and quality improvement and risk management as key objectives in a hospital's strategic plan. Governments can aid the implementation of risk management programs by financially rewarding high quality care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Critical Pathways
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Records
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Risk Management / organization & administration*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Victoria