While many methods exist for detecting inpatient adverse events, ranging from medical record review to incident reporting, no single method is considered optimal. Patient involvement in safety efforts is being actively promoted, but current efforts have focused on empowering patients to help prevent errors. This study attempted to detect adverse events by surveying patients recently discharged from the hospital, and compared patients' reports with review of their medical records. Patients reported multiple preventable errors that were not identified in medical record review, as well as additional adverse events that occurred after discharge. The concern that patients may not be able to differentiate between poor service quality and adverse events was not borne out in this study. The authors recommend that hospitals consider adding questions about adverse events to existing patient satisfaction surveys.