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Arch Hellen Med, 32(3), May-June 2015, 354-363


Reporting of errors and patient safety: The correct approach to faults and the role of the legal context of medical liability

A. Panagiotou
Faculty of Law, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Medical errors and adverse events occur in all healthcare systems worldwide. Medical errors are very often caused by systemic factors and for this reason error reporting and analysis systems have started to be developed in some countries. This is a presentation of recent trends in this field at the European Union level, with a description of recent developments in the UK, the USA and Greece. The majority of health systems focus on the accountability of the individual. Systemic inefficiencies leading to adverse events are neither reported nor assessed adequately. This incorrect individual-oriented approach to medical error is due primarily to the current legal context of medical liability which, with the exception of countries which have a no-fault system, leads to the "scapegoating" of health professionals and focuses on punishment of the negligence of the individual. This article claims that for patient safety to be reinforced and the quality of health services to be improved, it is necessary both to provide incentives for healthcare professionals to report adverse events and medical errors, and to create error reporting and analysis systems. The major goal is to enable health systems and their personnel to learn from their errors.

Key words: Medical error, Medical liability, Patient safety.

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