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Arch Surg. 2000 Nov;135(11):1359-66.

Surgical error: ethical issues of adverse events.

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University of South Florida, 4 Columbus Dr, Suite 650, Tampa, FL 33606, USA.


We all recognize and accept that adverse events occur with some frequency in surgery and that all departments meet regularly to review them. Since adverse events and "mistakes" have the potential for delaying recovery and injuring surgical patients, an ethical mandate exists to do all that can be done to prevent harm. This article suggests that there are 5 issues within the practice of surgery that have inhibited improvement in quality: (1) inadequate data about the incidence of adverse events, (2) inadequate practice guidelines or protocols and poor outcome analysis, (3) a culture of blame, (4) a need to compensate "injured" patients, and (5) difficulty in truth telling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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