August 28, 2019

How mistakes shape physicians’ perceptions of learning

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

Using a learning culture perspective that acknowledges blame and responsibility can facilitate learning from mistakes, this Canadian study finds.

A total of 19 physicians were interviewed on their experiences in learning from medical errors.


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Memories of mistakes from residence training stood out, and participants expressed feeling both responsible and blamed for them. Interconnecting cultural and individual factors both facilitated and deterred learning from these experiences.

The participants identified positive experiences with mentorship and peer support as helpful. Experiences with formal review processes and rounds were mixed.

A better understanding of the factors that shape learning from errors can help make the transition from error to learning more explicit and increase the opportunity to learn and teach from errors, the authors say.

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