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Keywords:

  • medical error;
  • adverse events;
  • patient safety;
  • measurement

In this paper, we identify 8 methods used to measure errors and adverse events in health care and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. We focus on the reliability and validity of each, as well as the ability to detect latent errors (or system errors) versus active errors and adverse events. We propose a general framework to help health care providers, researchers, and administrators choose the most appropriate methods to meet their patient safety measurement goals.