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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


MIRA, José Joaquín et al. News items about clinical errors and safety perceptions in hospital patients. Gac Sanit [online]. 2010, vol.24, n.1, pp.33-39. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: To analyze how news items about clinical errors are treated by the press in Spain and their influence on patients. Methods: We performed a quantitative and qualitative study. Firstly, news items published between April and November 2007 in six newspapers were analyzed. Secondly, 829 patients from five hospitals in four autonomous regions were surveyed. Results: We analyzed 90 cases generating 128 news items, representing a mean of 16 items per month. In 91 news items (71.1%) the source was checked. In 78 items (60.9%) the author could be identified. The impact of these news items was -4.86 points (95% confidence interval [95%CI]: -4.15-5.57). In 59 cases (57%) the error was attributed to the system, in 27 (21.3%) to health professionals, and in 41 (32.3%) to both. Neither the number of columns (p=0.702), nor the inclusion of a sub-header (p=0.195), nor a complementary image (p=0.9) were found to be related to the effect of the error on safety perceptions. Of the 829 patients, 515 (62.1%; 95%CI: 58.8-65.4%) claimed to have recently seen or heard news about clinical errors in the press, on the radio or on television. The perception of safety decreased when the same person was worried about being the victim of a clinical error and had seen a recent news item about such adverse events (c2=15.17; p=0.001). Conclusions: Every week news items about clinical errors are published or broadcast. The way in which newspapers report legal claims over alleged medical errors is similar to the way they report judicial sentences for negligence causing irreparable damage or harm. News about.

Keywords : Patient safety; Newspapers; Medical mistakes.

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