The Public's Experience with Medical Error and Harm

The vast majority of Americans are having positive experiences with the health care system, but 21 percent of adults report having personally experienced a medical error, according to a national survey released earlier this year by the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey further finds that, when errors do occur, they often have lasting impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.

The nationwide survey of more than 2,500 adults was conducted by NORC from May 12–June 26, 2017. The survey expands on a 1997 survey conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), which merged with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) earlier this year.

Among the survey’s other notable findings:

  • Nearly half of those who perceived that an error had occurred brought it to the attention of medical personnel or other staff at the health care facility.
  • Most respondents believe that, while health care providers are chiefly responsible for patient safety, patients and their families also have a role to play.
  • When asked what caused the medical error they experienced, people identified, on average, at least seven different factors.

Read the full report or download fact sheets highlighting the findings.


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  • published this page in News_Events 2018-03-09 08:41:31 -0500

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The Institute for Healthcare Improvement salutes Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals for their generous support of this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week.