Patient Safety Incident Reports: The Role of a Culture of Blame

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The researchers found that health care professionals making family practice incident reports attributed blame to a person in 45% of cases.
The researchers found that health care professionals making family practice incident reports attributed blame to a person in 45% of cases.

HealthDay News — Blame is a common element in family practice patient safety incident reports, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.1

Jennifer Cooper, MBBCh, from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues characterized a random sample of family practice patient safety incident reports using data from the England and Wales National Reporting and Learning System. Reports were analyzed according to prespecified classification systems and used a taxonomy of blame attribution.

The researchers found that health care professionals making family practice incident reports attributed blame to a person in 45% of cases (975 of 2148). Fault was attributed to another person in 36% of cases, while personal responsibility was acknowledged in 2%. Blame was commonly seen with incidents where a complaint was anticipated.

"The high frequency of blame in these safety incident reports may reflect a health care culture that leads to blame and retribution, rather than to identifying areas for learning and improvement, and a failure to appreciate the contribution of system factors in others' behavior," the authors write.

One author disclosed serving as a paid consultant on incident reporting issues.

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Reference

  1. Cooper J, Edwards A, Williams W, et al. Nature of blame in patient safety incident reports: mixed methods analysis of a national database. Ann Fam Med. 2017; 15(5): 455-461. 
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