Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 61–67 | Cite as

Measuring errors and adverse events in health care

  • Eric J. Thomas
  • Laura A. Petersen


In this paper, we identify 8 methods used to measure errors and adverse events in health care and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. We focus on the reliability and validity of each, as well as the ability to detect latent errors (or system errors) versus active errors and adverse events. We propose a general framework to help health care providers, researchers, and administrators choose the most appropriate methods to meet their patient safety measurement goals.

Key words

medical error adverse events patient safety measurement 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Center for Clinical Research and Evidence Based Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of MedicineThe University of Texas Houston Medical SchoolHouston
  2. 2.the Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, a Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, Houston VA Medical Center, and Section for Health Services ResearchBaylor College of MedicineHouston

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