Error and patient safety: Ethical analysis of cases in occupational and physical therapy practice

Linda S. Scheirton, K. Mu, H. Lohman, T. M. Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Compared to other health care professions such as medicine, nursing and pharmacy, few studies have been conducted to examine the nature of practice errors in occupational and physical therapy. In an ongoing study to determine root causes, typographies and impact of occupational and physical therapy error on patients, focus group interviews have been conducted across the United States. A substantial number of harmful practice errors and/or other patient safety events (deviations or accidents) have been identified. Often these events have had moral dimensions that troubled the therapist involved. In this article, six of these transcribed cases are analyzed, using predominant bioethical theories, ethical principles and professional codes of ethics. The cases and their analyses are intended to be exemplary, improving the readers' ability to discern and critically address similar such events. Several patient safety strategies are suggested that might have prevented the events described in these cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-311
Number of pages11
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Case studies
  • Error
  • Ethical analysis
  • Ethics
  • Occupational therapy
  • Patient safety
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Health Policy


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