Handbook of Healthcare Management

Handbook of Healthcare Management

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by Myron D. Fottler, Donna Malvey and Donna J. Slovensky

The Handbook of Healthcare Management is a comprehensive examination of key management practices for global healthcare organizations, arguing that insight into and implementation of these practices is essential for success and sustainability.

Chapter 14: Reducing medical errors

Joseph G. Van Matre and Donna J. Slovensky

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, strategic management, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


Medical errors in the United States engender national economic and policy concerns as well as affecting individuals and organizations. The financial and human costs associated with medical errors in the US have recently been estimated at $17.1 billion (Van Den Bos et al., 2011) and between 210 000 and 400 000 patient deaths (James, 2013) each year. Medical error and its flip side, patient safety, have been of concern among healthcare providers for many years, but did not emerge as national policy issues until the late twentieth century. Occasional articles appeared in the research literature and trade press, but they rarely engendered sufficient attention or controversy to get the populace involved in advocating for system-wide improvements. Public records concerning medical data date back at least 500 years when weekly lists of deaths from the plague were enumerated in England. The oldest Bill of Mortality extant, thought to be from 1512, records the deaths of 66 unnamed persons, 34 of whom died from the plague; the cause of death for the other 32 was not specified (Schulz, 2014). From such beginnings as these simple lists, the legal death certificate and the electronic medical record (EMR) have evolved. Data concerning deaths from medical error, whether avoidable (for example, administering penicillin to an individual known to be allergic) or unavoidable (for example, an unforeseen adverse drug event) began to appear in the late twentieth century.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information