Iranian Journal of Public Health 2018. 47(5):720-728.

Physicians’ Perspectives on Causes of Health Care Errors and Preventive Strategies: A Study in a Developing Country


Background: To prevent health care errors, the main causes and preventive strategies should be identified. The purpose of this study was to identify the causes and preventive strategies of health care errors from the perspectives of physicians.

Methods: We surveyed 250 randomly selected physicians in five teaching hospitals in Tehran, Iran, in 2015. We used a questionnaire with 29 questions regarding causes and 17 ones regarding the preventive strategies. The participants were asked to answer the questions based on Likert’s five-point score (1=very low to 5= very high). The data was analyzed using descriptive (frequency, and mean scores) and inferential statistics in SPSS.

Results: Managerial factors (3.6±0.7), personal factors of providers (3.5±0.6), factors related to the patients (3.4±0.71), and the factors pertinent to laboratory and pharmacy (3.2±0.8) were the main causes respectively. The most important preventive strategies were improvement of academic education, better taking past medical history, implementing electronic prescription and increasing healthcare budget.

Conclusion: Heavy workloads, long work shifts, failure to do thorough examination and to collect detailed history information, providers’ fatigue, patients’ reluctance to follow orders or to give their complete information, failure to give detailed instruction to patients about the medications, lack or insufficient monitoring and supervising systems, and lack of enough budget were some of the most important causes of errors. Using IT to access patients’ information, improving patients’ adherence, reducing workload, developing efficient methods for collecting patients’ information, dedicating adequate budget for improvement programs are recommended.




Medical error, Healthcare error, Patient safety, Physician

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