Physician factors associated with medical errors in Norwegian primary care emergency services
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the associations between characteristics of physicians working in primary care emergency units (PCEUs) and the outcome of assessments of the medical records. Design: Data from a previous case-control study was used to evaluate factors related to medical errors. Setting: Ten Norwegian PCEUs were included. Subjects: Physicians that had evoked a patient complaint, and a random sample of three physicians from the same PCEU and time period as the physician who had evoked a complaint. Recorded physician characteristics were: gender, seniority, citizenship at, and years after authorization as a physician, specialty in general practice, and workload at the PCEU. Main outcome measures: Assessments of the medical records: errors that may have led to harm, no medical error, or inconclusive. Results: In the complaint group 77 physicians were included, and in the random sample group 217. In the first group, 53.2% of the medical records were assessed as revealing medical errors. In the random sample group, this percentage was 3.2. In the complaint group the percentages for no-error and inconclusive for the female physicians were 30.8 and 15.4; and for the male physicians 9.8 and 27.3, p ¼ 0.027. Conclusion: In the group of complaints there was a higher percentage with no assessed medical error, and a lower percentage with inconclusive assessments of medical errors, among female physicians compared to their male colleagues. We found no other physician factors that were associated with assessed medical errors. Future research should focus on the underlying elements of these findings.