Physicians say they have personally experienced medical errors

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Survey shows strong disagreement between physicians and the public on effectiveness of potential solutions

A nationwide survey examined the views of 831 physicians in April-July 2002 and 1,207 adults in April-June 2002. Some 42 percent of the public and more than one-third of U.S. doctors say they or their family members have experienced medical errors in the course of receiving medical care. “One of the striking findings of this study is that physicians disagree with national experts on the effectiveness of many of the proposed solutions to the problem of medical errors,” said Robert Blendon, professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This survey provides strong documentation that medical errors represent a problem that affects a significant number of people,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The fact that so many physicians report personal experiences with errors corroborates what we heard from the public.” Researchers from Harvard and the Kaiser Family Foundation discussed their findings in a New England Journal of Medicine article published Dec. 12, 2002.