, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 197-205
Date: 04 Mar 2010

Toward Understanding Errors in Inpatient Psychiatry: A Qualitative Inquiry

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While prior research has identified the impact, nature, and causes of medical error in general medical settings, little is known about errors in inpatient psychiatry. Understanding the broad range of errors that occur in inpatient psychiatry is a critical step toward improving systems of care for a vulnerable patient population. An explorative qualitative analysis of key informant interviews identified a preliminary typology of errors and the contextual factors that precipitate them in inpatient psychiatry. The types of errors and their contextual factors fall broadly within the rubric of categories identified in medicine and surgery. However, many of the specific errors and contextual factors manifest themselves differently and are shaped by the uniqueness of the inpatient psychiatric setting and patient population. Interventions geared toward improving systems of care for psychiatric patients should draw on best practices for safety in medicine and surgery, but also be complemented with new strategies specifically tailored to the inpatient psychiatric setting.