Perceived barriers to medical-error reporting: an exploratory investigation

J Healthc Manag. 2002 Jul-Aug;47(4):263-79.


Medical-error reporting is an essential component for patient safety enhancement. Unfortunately, medical errors are largely underreported across healthcare institutions. This problem can be attributed to different factors and barriers present at organizational and individual levels that ultimately prevent individuals from generating the report. This study explored the factors that affect medical-error reporting among physicians and nurses at a large academic medical center located in the midwest United States. A nominal group session was conducted to identify the most relevant factors that act as barriers for error reporting. These factors were then used to design a questionnaire that explored the likelihood of the factors to act as barriers and their likelihood to be modified. Using these two parameters, the results were analyzed and combined into a Factor Relevance Matrix. The matrix identifies the factors for which immediate actions should be undertaken to improve medical-error reporting (immediate action factors). It also identifies factors that require long-term strategies (long-term strategy factors) as well as factors that the organization should be aware of but that are of lower priority (awareness factors). The strategies outlined in this study may assist healthcare organizations in improving medical-error reporting, as part of the efforts toward patient-safety enhancement. Although factors affecting medical-error reporting may vary between different organizations, the process used in identifying the factors and the Factor Relevance Matrix developed in this study are easily adaptable to any organizational setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Medical Errors*
  • Midwestern United States
  • Models, Organizational
  • Organizational Policy
  • Risk Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires