Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 367–370 | Cite as

Brief report: Hospitalized patients’ attitudes about and participation in error prevention

  • Amy D. Waterman
  • Thomas H. Gallagher
  • Jane Garbutt
  • Brian M. Waterman
  • Victoria Fraser
  • Thomas E. Burroughs
Original Articles


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Although many patient safety organizations and hospital leaders wish to involve patients in error prevention, it is unknown whether patients will take the recommended actions or whether error prevention involvement affects hospitalization satisfaction.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Telephone interviews with 2,078 patients discharged from 11 Midwest hospitals.

RESULTS: Ninety-one percent agreed that patients could help prevent errors. Patients were very comfortable asking a medication’s purpose (91%), general medical questions (89%), and confirming their identity (84%), but were uncomfortable asking medical providers whether they had washed their hands (46% very comfortable). While hospitalized, many asked questions about their care (85%) and a medication’s purpose (75%), but fewer confirmed they were the correct patient (38%), helped mark their incision site (17%), or asked about handwashing (5%). Multivariate logistic regression revealed that patients who felt very comfortable with error prevention were significantly more likely to take 6 of the 7 error-prevention actions compared with uncomfortable patients.

CONCLUSIONS: While patients were generally comfortable with error prevention, their participation varied by specific action. Since patients who were very comfortable were most likely to take action, educational interventions to increase comfort with error prevention may be necessary to help patients become more engaged.

Key words

medical errors patient safety error prevention 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy D. Waterman
    • 4
  • Thomas H. Gallagher
    • 1
  • Jane Garbutt
    • 4
  • Brian M. Waterman
    • 2
  • Victoria Fraser
    • 4
  • Thomas E. Burroughs
    • 3
  1. 1.General Internal MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Waterman Research SolutionsSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Center for Outcomes Research, Salus CenterSt. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Division of General Medical SciencesWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis

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