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Error, Blame, and the Law in Health Care—An Antipodean Perspective

William B. Runciman, MBBCh, FANZCA, FRCA, PhD; Alan F. Merry, MBChB, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA; and Fiona Tito, BA(Hons), LLB
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From University of Adelaide and the Australian Patient Safety Foundation, Adelaide, Australia; and University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Acknowledgment: The authors thank Dr. Klee Benveniste for conducting the literature search on open disclosure, mediation, and tort law reform in various countries.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Corresponding Author: William B. Runciman, MBBCh, FANZCA, FRCA, PhD, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Runciman: Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia.

Dr. Merry: Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Auckland, Mercy Hospital, 98 Mountain Road, Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand.

Ms. Tito: Enduring Solutions Pty Ltd, 11 Masters Place, Kambah, ACT 2902, Australia.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(12):974-979. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-12-200306170-00009
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Until recently, while people understood that disastrous outcomes can result from avoidable failures in health care delivery, most people believed that these outcomes were fairly isolated events. In the last 10 years, however, reports from several countries have drawn attention to the fact that harm to patients receiving health care is not rare but common, systematic, ubiquitous, and, all too often, severe (16).

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