Physicians' views of interventions to reduce medical errors: does evidence of effectiveness matter

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



*Attitude of Health Personnel; Female; Humans; Male; Medical Errors; Physicians; Questionnaires; Safety Management; United States


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


PURPOSE: Despite widespread public attention and numerous ongoing patient safety initiatives, physicians are skeptical of the most commonly prescribed interventions to reduce medical errors. This study examined the association between the published evidence of effectiveness of interventions to reduce medical errors and physicians' ratings of the effectiveness of those interventions. It further assessed whether academic affiliation was associated with physicians' ratings of effectiveness.

METHOD: The authors conducted a literature review seeking evidence of effectiveness of 13 interventions to reduce medical errors. A four-page questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 1,332 U.S. physicians in the spring of 2002. A total of 831 (62%) responded, providing ratings of the perceived effectiveness of these interventions to reduce medical errors.

RESULTS: We identified published evidence of effectiveness for six of the 13 interventions. Physicians rated 34% of these and 29% of the interventions without published evidence as "very effective" (p < .01). Physicians with an academic affiliation and those in practice for more years were slightly more likely to rate interventions with published evidence as "very effective."

CONCLUSIONS: Physicians' ratings of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce medical errors are only weakly associated with published evidence of effectiveness. More evidence, better dissemination strategies for existing evidence such as inclusion in medical school curriculum or recertification examinations, and a focus on removing barriers to interventions may be needed to engage physicians in moving patient safety interventions into medical practice.


Acad Med. 2005 Feb;80(2):189-92. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed