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PSNet: Patient Safety Network

Errors, Medicine, and the Law.

Merry A; Smith AM

Merry, a New Zealand anesthesiologist, and Smith, a legal educator and a popular writer, explore the nature of medical errors. The authors suggest that most errors are due to systems factors, not moral lapses, and thus the tort system, which focuses on assigning individual blame, is an imperfect tool for dealing with these errors. The authors also summarize situations in which blame is appropriate and present concepts to help the reader discern the difference. This book will help readers understand the nature of medical error and the role of the legal system in patient safety.