General Principles of How Errors Occur and How They May Be Reduced

  • Maxwell L. Smith
  • Stephen S. Raab


This introductory chapter covers general principles of how errors occur and how they can potentially be prevented. The definition of medical error is reviewed, and various classification schemas for the identification of different error types are investigated. Two well-known error causation models are compared and contrasted. The second half of the chapter focuses on error detection methodology and potential ways to reduce errors. Various quality improvement methods are reviewed. Finally, the challenging concept cognitive errors at the interpretative level are evaluated.


Error Lean Quality Swiss cheese Heinrich Eindhoven 


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Copyright information

© Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maxwell L. Smith
    • 1
  • Stephen S. Raab
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Laboratory Medicine and PathologyMayo Clinic ArizonaScottsdaleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA

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