[The attitude of doctors and nurses towards reporting and handling errors and adverse events]

Ugeskr Laeger. 2006 Nov 27;168(48):4195-200.
[Article in Danish]


Introduction: Few studies have been published about the attitudes of doctors and nurses towards reporting and handling adverse events. However, knowledge about staff attitudes is relevant and may be essential to dealing with potential problems and barriers that staff might have, as well as to supporting cultural change in relation to reporting and learning.

Materials and methods: From February to March 2002, a questionnaire comprising 133 questions was distributed to 4019 doctors and nurses in four counties in Denmark. This paper deals with only a subset of the results of the survey.

Results: Responses were obtained from 703 doctors and 881 nurses, yielding an overall response rate of 51%. Statistical analysis was performed with non-parametric tests (Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis). The survey shows large differences in attitudes among different staff groups towards reporting adverse events, and errors, in their reasons for not reporting and their degree of distress at the prospect of making mistakes. Doctors are more reluctant (34%) than nurses (21%) to bring up adverse events and errors, indicating as their main reasons: lack of tradition, fear of the press, and the risk of being reprimanded. In contrast to consultants, "non-consultants" (staff specialists and junior doctors), and especially the female members of this group, show a greater agreement with each of the proposed reasons. The thought that one may cause injury to a patient induces 35% of "non-consultants" to consider giving up their job "now and then/often".

Discussion: Efforts to improve patient safety culture can become more effective via knowledge about similarities and differences among staff groups that have been uncovered in this survey.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Nurses* / psychology
  • Physicians* / psychology
  • Risk Management*
  • Safety Management*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires