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Int J Nurs Stud. 2006 Mar;43(3):367-76. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

The ethics and practical importance of defining, distinguishing and disclosing nursing errors: a discussion paper.

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Division of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Plenty Road, Bundoora Vic 3083, Australia.


Nurses globally are required and expected to report nursing errors. As is clearly demonstrated in the international literature, fulfilling this requirement is not, however, without risks. In this discussion paper, the notion of 'nursing error', the practical and moral importance of defining, distinguishing and disclosing nursing errors and how a distinct definition of 'nursing error' fits with the new 'system approach' to human-error management in health care are critiqued. Drawing on international literature and two key case exemplars from the USA and Australia, arguments are advanced to support the view that although it is 'right' for nurses to report nursing errors, it will be very difficult for them to do so unless a non-punitive approach to nursing-error management is adopted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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