Perceptions of registered nurses sanctioned by a board of nursing: individual, health care team, patient, and system contributions to error

Access full-text files




Thomas, Mary Elizabeth, 1951-

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Errors in health care are one of the leading causes of death and injury in this country, requiring new methods for evaluating and promoting quality in health care services. Concern for patient safety, the foundation for quality services, has prompted national initiatives to examine the most basic premise for health care providers: Do no harm to the patient. Few of these initiatives have examined errors from the perspective of those who have been sanctioned for their errors. This descriptive, exploratory study utilized a survey methodology to examine the perceptions of 62 registered nurses (RNs) who had been sanctioned by a board of nursing to ascertain categories of practice errors and identify individual, health care team, patient, and system threats that contributed to an error and/or patient harm. The Threat and Error Management Model (TEMM) was utilized as a framework for examining the phenomena that promote or hinder patient safety. Using a modified version of the Taxonomy of Error Root Cause Analysis of Practice-Responsibilities (TERCAP) instrument, sanctioned RNs selected types of errors associated with a breakdown in their nursing practice. In addition, they identified factors that contributed to their errors, including individual, health care team, patient, and system threats. Associations between the levels of patient harm and types of error were examined. Two open-ended questions provided an opportunity for the participants to describe changes in their practice since the error event. System and health care team factors were the most common items selected as contributing to the error events, while individual factors were the least often selected items. Two types of errors, clinical evaluation and attentiveness/surveillance, were significantly related to the level of harm to patients. Given the opportunity to discuss individual factors through open-ended questions, responses were comprehensive and many were related to issues with trust. Recommendations for nursing theory, policy, practice, education, and research are reviewed.