The normalization of deviance in healthcare delivery

Bus Horiz. 2010;53(2):139. doi: 10.1016/j.bushor.2009.10.006.


Many serious medical errors result from violations of recognized standards of practice. Over time, even egregious violations of standards of practice may become "normalized" in healthcare delivery systems. This article describes what leads to this normalization and explains why flagrant practice deviations can persist for years, despite the importance of the standards at issue. This article also provides recommendations to aid healthcare organizations in identifying and managing unsafe practice deviations before they become normalized and pose genuine risks to patient safety, quality care, and employee morale.