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Book and Media Reviews
December 26, 2007

After Harm: Medical Error and the Ethics of Forgiveness

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(24):2914-2920. doi:10.1001/jama.298.24.2915

No publication has transformed American medicine more than the 1999 release of the Institute of Medicine's To Err Is Human. Medical errors and medical harm have always been around, but To Err Is Human highlighted the enormous scope of the problem and initiated the first step toward finding solutions. That first step was the acknowledgment that physicians and surgeons were operating under the false and onerous assumption of infallibility. Measures to reduce errors solely through personal accountability, blame, and shame were likely to fail, but approaches that improved the system of care, while being attentive to human factors, were more likely to succeed.

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