Exploring strategies for reducing hospital errors

Kathleen L. McFadden, Gregory N. Stock, Charles R. Gowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to explore current strategies for reducing errors at U.S. hospitals. Reports by the Institute of Medicine highlight concerns about the staggering number of medical errors that occur in the U.S. healthcare system. These reports have exerted considerable pressure on hospitals to establish programs that reduce errors and improve patient safety. A previous research study identifies seven critical strategies for reducing hospital errors based on a case study of four Chicago-area hospitals. These strategies include (1) partnership with stakeholders, (2) reporting errors free of blame, (3) open discussion of errors, (4) cultural shift, (5) education and training, (6) statistical analysis of data, and (7) system redesign. This article reports the results of our nationwide survey of 525 hospitals. We examined the perceptions of healthcare quality directors about the importance of these seven patient safety strategies, the factors that act as barriers, the level of adoption of these strategies, and the benefits resulting from implementation of these strategies. Our results indicate that a considerable gap exists between current hospital practices and the perceived importance of various approaches to improving patient safety. Results of our regression analysis reveal that internal organizational barriers are associated with a larger gap between perceived importance and actual implementation. Moreover, the regression analysis also reveals that smaller gaps are associated with better error outcomes such as reduction in the frequency and severity of errors. The findings provide specific directions for enhancing patient safety programs at hospitals in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Healthcare Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Strategy and Management


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