A Theoretical Model of Sources of Physician Error

  • J. M. Merrill
  • C. Vallbona
Conference paper
Part of the Health Systems Research book series (HEALTH)


A generic servomechanism (Fig. 1) is a useful analogy to explore sources of medical errors. In a servomechanism we distinguish the following elements: (1) an”integrator regulatory center” which exerts positive or negative controlling influences on (2) an”effector organ” whose output can be expressed in terms of (3) a”controlled variable” whose value at any point in time is measured by (4) a”detector” connected to (5) a”feedback network” which transmits measured values to the integrator center (6) a”set point of reference” and (7) information received from”other feedback loops.”


Medical Error Effector Organ Integrator Center Health Care Intervention Feedback Network 
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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag , Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Merrill
    • 1
  • C. Vallbona
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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