Article Text

Adverse events in hospitals: the patient's point of view
  1. P Massó Guijarro1,
  2. J M Aranaz Andrés1,
  3. J J Mira1,
  4. E Perdiguero1,
  5. C Aibar2
  1. 1Universidad Miguel Hernández, Alicante, Spain
  2. 2Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
  1. Correspondence to José Joaquín Mira, Departamento de Psicología de la Salud. Universidad Miguel Hernández, Ctra. Nacional, N-332, s/n San Juan 03550, Alicante, Spain; jose.mira{at}


Background The publication of the report “To err is human: building a safer system” by the Institute of Medicine incited a profuse research addressing improvements in healthcare safety. However, there is still little acknowledgement of the key role of the patient in preventing adverse events of medical care. The aim of this review is to analyse and compare studies about patient's perception and opinion about care safety in hospitals.

Methods We searched 10 databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, SCOPUS, Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation, IME, Sociological Abstracts, LILACS and The Cochrane Library) to identify articles and reports on patient's safety perception published between 1989 and 2006.

Results From the 699 articles, 18 were selected: eight determined the frequency of experiences related to adverse events and the safety perception reported by patients, seven focused on the impact of the adverse events regarding the communication to the patient, and three included patient's opinions about the management and disclosure of adverse events and proposals to prevent them.

Conclusions The incidence of adverse events reported by patients was similar to that estimated by other procedures. The patient's concept of adverse events was different from that of the physician. The quality of communication from the physician influenced the patient's perception of adverse events, and the majority wanted adverse events to be disclosed. Patients emphasised emotional consequences of the adverse events. The majority supported system modifications to prevent adverse events and to sanction the physicians when an adverse event occurs.

  • Adverse events
  • healthcare
  • perception
  • attitude to health
  • patient safety
  • safety culture
  • healthcare quality
  • patient-centred

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  • Funding This research has been financed by the Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (FIS) (reference 06/90318 and 06/90043), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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