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Review: some interventions are effective in reducing medical errors

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 QUESTION: What is the effectiveness of interventions specifically aimed at reducing medical errors?

Data sources

Studies in any language were identified by searching Medline (1966 to 2000) and EMBASE with the terms medical errors, prescription errors, diagnostic errors, and medication errors, and terms associated with randomised controlled trials. Additional studies were identified by screening the Cochrane Clinical Trials Registry and bibliographies of relevant studies and by communicating with experts and colleagues.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials, compared an intervention with placebo or no intervention, and specified the aim of reducing medical errors as a primary or secondary outcome. Studies were excluded if they emphasised patient compliance, they evaluated omission of orders or actions suggested by preventive medicine, the only outcome was interrater variability in the absence of a gold standard, the intervention was a different imaging or laboratory test to improve …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr J Lau, Division of Clinical Care Research, New England Medical Center, Box 63, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA. Fax +1 617 636 8023 or 613 636 1384.