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Graham DG, Harris DM, Elder NC, et al. Qual Saf Health Care. 2008;17:201-8.
Patient harm resulting from errors in the diagnostic testing process is common in outpatient care, but many potentially harmful errors become "near misses" due to mitigating actions by clinicians, office staff, or patients themselves. This study analyzed voluntary incident reports from a companion study of testing errors in family medicine clinics, with the goal of identifying factors that prevented patient harm from testing errors. Errors were more likely to be mitigated if they could be more easily detected by office staff—for example, if a test was ordered incorrectly—and mitigated events resulted in less harm to patients. However, as noted in prior research, problems were noted at each stage of the testing process, implying that ambulatory clinics require comprehensive systems for ordering and following up on tests to ensure patient safety and optimal care.
Weingart SN, Price J, Duncombe D, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2007;33:83-94.
This study assessed the ability of patients to detect medical errors through an innovative mechanism of using patient safety liaisons (trained patient and family volunteers) to conduct interviews of patients at an outpatient chemotherapy center. Patients' responses to open-ended questions were reviewed by physicians, who classified reported adverse events as adverse events, near misses, or problems with service quality (eg, delays or poor communication). Patients demonstrated good understanding of safe practices in outpatient chemotherapy, and nearly one-fourth of the patients felt they had experienced unsafe care. However, only 1% of the reported events were classified as true medical errors with potential for harm. The vast majority of events related to service quality rather than quality of care. Prior research also assessed the relationship between patient perceptions of care quality and service quality.