The nature of errors in emergency department and the role of detectors: A qualitative study

Document Type: Original Article


1 Bam University of Medical Scinces, Bam, Iran, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 School of Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health (Tehran Institute of Psychiatry), Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

3 Department of Critical Care Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Ardabil University of Medical Sciences, Ardabil, Iran.


Objectives: Understanding the nature of errors and the way errors are detected by nurses has a major role in preventing and reducing complications of errors. The present study aims to investigate the nature of errors and identify factors detecting errors in the emergency department.
Methods: The present qualitative study was conducted with participation of 20 emergency department nurses according to Elo & Kyngas (2008) content analysis method. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. Sampling began purposively and continued until data saturation was reached.
Results: Analysis of data led to the extraction of two main categories, including nature of errors and error detectors. The nature of errors consisted of two subcategories, namely, lurking errors and indistinguishable of errors. Error detectors comprised four subcategories, namely, personal detectors, team detectors, client detectors, and organizational detectors.
Conclusion: The present study results showed that errors in the emergency department are vague in nature and difficult to detect. Nurses use various sources to identify errors. In the context of the present study, human sources, especially nurses and patients have a key role in identifying and detecting errors. These sources of error detection should be reinforced by health organizations.