Perceptions of Medical Errors in Cancer Care

Justin W. Li, Laurinda Morway, Andrew Velasquez, Saul N. Weingart, Sherri O. Stuver
2015 Journal of patient safety  
Objective: To analyze the print news media's coverage of sentinel events involving cancer patients. Methods: Using LexisNexis \ , we identified English-language newspaper articles covering medical errors in cancer care between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2010. Articles were coded for 3 major themes using a standardized abstraction instrument: narrative statements and point of view most prominently represented, attribution of blame, and orientation toward patient safety. We also abstracted
more » ... We also abstracted country where the newspaper was published, type of error event, and extent of patient harm. Results: We analyzed 64 articles from 37 print newspaper syndications that circulated in 6 countries/regions. Reports of medical errors rarely were framed from the point of view of a safety expert or the responsible clinician (13% and 3%, respectively) compared with the patient and legal points of view (both 30%). Articles held individual clinicians (41%) and hospital systems (28%) responsible for most errors. Four in 10 articles failed to present medical errors as "systems" problems. Article perspective varied considerably by country, with 53% of articles from the UK and 63% from Australia and New Zealand judged as negatively slanted compared with 14% in the United States and Canada. Conclusions: In reports of medical errors involving cancer patients, the news media regularly blame individual clinicians for mistakes and fail to present a systems-based understanding of these events.
doi:10.1097/pts.0000000000000039 pmid:24080724 fatcat:72ue46bp3jhm7kfsmsogfuysii