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Qual Saf Health Care. 2002 Mar;11(1):45-50.

Improving safety on the front lines: the role of clinical microsystems.

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  • 1Schools of Public Health and Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#7360 Beard Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7360, USA.


The clinical microsystem puts medical error and harm reduction into the broader context of safety and quality of care by providing a framework to assess and evaluate the structure, process, and outcomes of care. Eight characteristics of clinical microsystems emerged from a qualitative analysis of interviews with representatives from 43 microsystems across North America. These characteristics were used to develop a tool for assessing the function of microsystems. Further research is needed to assess microsystem performance, outcomes, and safety, and how to replicate "best practices" in other settings.

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