Reducing medical errors and adverse events

Annu Rev Med. 2012:63:447-63. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-061410-121352. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Medical errors account for ∼98,000 deaths per year in the United States. They increase disability and costs and decrease confidence in the health care system. We review several important types of medical errors and adverse events. We discuss medication errors, healthcare-acquired infections, falls, handoff errors, diagnostic errors, and surgical errors. We describe the impact of these errors, review causes and contributing factors, and provide an overview of strategies to reduce these events. We also discuss teamwork/safety culture, an important aspect in reducing medical errors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • United States / epidemiology