Errors in Breast Imaging: How to Reduce Errors and Promote a Safety Environment

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Medical errors have a significant impact on patient care, worker safety, and health care finances. Breast imaging has the most common cause of organ-related misdiagnosis subject to malpractice suits. In order to effectively develop strategies to prevent errors, breast imaging radiologists must first understand the underlying causes of the errors that occur in the breast imaging setting. Errors in breast imaging can be related to errors in interpretation, improper workup of imaging findings, procedural errors, or errors in communication to the patient or other medical staff. The Yorkshire contributory factors framework was developed to identify factors that contribute to the errors in a hospital setting and can be adapted for use in the breast imaging setting. Within this framework, active failures refer to errors that directly affect the patient. Active errors include slips (including biases), lapses, and mistakes. The framework describes how active errors often result from factors that occur uphill from these active errors at different levels within the system. Once error causes are understood, there are concrete strategies and tools that breast imaging radiologists can implement to decrease adverse events, reduce medical errors, and promote a safety environment in the breast imaging clinic. Error mitigation tools can be summarized using the acronym SAFE, which includes support the team, ask questions, focus on a task, and effectively communicate/ensure equipment optimization/safe environment. Knowledge of errors commonly seen in a breast imaging clinic represent an opportunity for constructive changes and, ultimately, improved health care delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Breast Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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