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The problem with 'Medical Error'

27th February 2020 at 20:00 GMT


This session will challenge the wide-spread, uncritical use of ‘medical error’ and its synonyms as part of patient safety education, research and practice.  From a systems-based Human Factors perspective, the term is hugely problematic as, amongst other issues, it is alogical, ill-defined, ambiguous, misleading and unwittingly implies individual failure and encourages a blame culture.  Ultimately, this type of thinking is educationally-backward, counter-productive to a systems approach to learning, and self-harms the profession.  Surely, it’s now time to put ‘medical error’ to bed?


Prof. Paul Bowie PhD MSc C.ErgHF MIEHF FRCPEd FRCGP(Hon)

Paul is a Safety Scientist, Medical Educator and Chartered Ergonomist and Human Factors specialist with NHS Education for Scotland based in Glasgow, where he is Programme Director (Safety & Improvement) and leads the Safety, Skills and Improvement Research Collaborative (SKIRC). He has worked in the National Health Service in Scotland for over 25 years in a range of quality and safety advisory roles.

He gained his doctorate in significant event analysis from the University of Glasgow in 2004 and has published over 120 papers on healthcare quality and safety in international peer-reviewed journals and co-edited a book on safety and improvement. Paul is also Honorary Professor and a PhD supervisor/examiner in the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.  He is Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of General Practitioners, and a Chartered Member of the UK Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.


This will be made available to RCSEd Fellows, Members and Affiliates following the live webinar on 27th February 2020.


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