Table 2

Types of mistakes made by the 114 survey respondents

Type of mistakeNo (%) of total casesExamplesPatient outcomes*
*Cause and effect cannot be determined.
Errors in diagnosis38 (33)Failed to diagnose small-bowel obstruction in a patient with ascitesDeath
Failed to examine and diagnose fracture in a “crack” cocaine userDelayed treatment
Errors in evaluation and treatment24 (21)Treated malignant hypertension on the ward instead of in the intensive care unitStroke
Incomplete débridement of a diabetic foot ulcerAmputation
Errors in prescribing and dosing33 (29)Did not read syringe and gave 50 times the correct dose of levothyroxineNone apparent
Inadvertently stopped asthma medication at the time of hospitalizationRespiratory failure
Procedural complications13 (11)Removed pulmonary artery catheter with the balloon inflatedSmall amount of bleeding
Placed central line without a follow-up roentgenogramFatal tension pneumothorax
Faulty communication6 (5)Failed to document “do not resuscitate” order in chart and failed to inform spouseResuscitation was performed against the patient’s wishes
Failed to obtain consent before central line placementNo informed consent for a procedure that had a fatal complication