Objective: Patient perception of clinical safety has been scantly studied. This study describes the frequency of clinical errors from a patient point of view, their perception of safety and its relationship with the information received.
Material and methods: Descriptive study based on a postal survey to 336 surgical patients, 20 days after the discharge from the hospital (the corrected rate of response is 75.58%, the error is 5.7% for a confidence level of 95%).
Results: In the responses, 13.05% (95% CI, 9.16-16.95%) reported suffering a clinical error. Of these, 10.5% had severe complications. This experience decreases the perception of safety in future treatments (p = 0.0001). The risk of being a victim of a medical error with serious consequences is high was considered by 11.9% (95% CI, 7.2-16.6%) of the patients, although less than suffering from a traffic accident, a robbery or a serious illness. A higher frequency in the media related to medical mistakes, decreases the perception of safety (p < .001). The patients who positively value the information received regarding the treatment and who can formulate questions to ask the doctor are those who report less errors (p < .001).
Conclusions: A total of 1.37% of surgical patients report mistakes with severe consequences, whereas 12% believe that the risk of a mistake with serious consequences is high. Distrust increases after an error. Improving communication with the patient helps to reduce mistakes, which strengthens the role of programs to increase safety that encourage more active patient involvement.