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Hum Factors. 2006 Spring;48(1):48-58.

Multiple user considerations and their implications in medical error reporting system design.

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MacroErgonomics Safety and Health Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.



The study examined the differences between physicians and clinical assistants in their preferences for a statewide medical error reporting system.


Medical error reporting systems have been proposed as a means for studying the causes of medical error. Knowledge of user similarities and differences is needed for the development of design guidelines for medical error reporting systems.


Separate focus groups composed of 8 physicians and 6 clinical assistants (physician clinical support staff) were conducted. One-hour focus group meetings were conducted via toll-free teleconference lines one to two times per month for 9 months. All conversations were audiotaped and transcribed for analysis. An inductive content analysis was conducted.


Eighty-six major and minor themes emerged. Differences between physicians and clinical assistants included rules and regulations governing the use of the system, the medium of reporting, and aspects of the organization that may affect reporting levels.


Although physicians and clinical assistants shared similar preferences and beliefs surrounding error reporting, there were differences that need to be considered if medical error reporting systems are to be effective.


To successfully deploy a medical error reporting system, the system itself must be designed for the potential users. This study uncovered previously underappreciated issues that should be incorporated into the design and implementation process. Actual or potential applications of this research include the improvement of the design and implementation of medical error reporting systems to account for the needs of different types of users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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