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In this chapter we first provide an overview of studies of errors and adverse outcomes in surgery. We also provide a brief summary of approaches to human error and systems thinking, which we contend could enhance current ways of understanding surgical outcomes, both in the analysis of individual cases and the broader understanding of the determinants of good and poor surgical outcomes. Finally, we provide some illustrations of interventions to improve the safety of surgery and the directions we see for the future. We consider that surgery has much to gain from embracing patient safety and drawing on the understanding and techniques that have been developed in health care and a variety of other industries; equally, we believe that patient safety could benefit from wider exposure to methods used in surgical research, in particular the attention given to the monitoring and constant surveillance of outcome and morbidity data characteristic of the best units. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010.

Original publication




Journal article

Publication Date



255 - 269