Improving client safety: Strategies to prevent and reduce practice errors in occupational therapy

Keli Mu, Helene Lohman, Linda S. Scheirton, Teresa M. Cochran, Brenda M. Coppard, Stephanie R. Kokesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This qualitative focus group study investigated the strategies to prevent or reduce practice errors used by occupational therapists who practice in physical rehabilitation and geriatrics. METHOD: A total of 34 occupational therapists from four geographic regions across the United States participated in four focus groups. Participants worked in the areas of physical rehabilitation or geriatrics and had a minimum of 1 year of practice. Participants responded to open-ended, guiding questions. Data collected from the focus groups were analyzed qualitatively for themes. RESULTS: Analysis of the collected data yielded four themes related to specific strategies occupational therapists use to prevent or reduce practice errors: (1) strengthen orientation and mentoring for new therapists, (2) ensure competency through performance competency checks, (3) enhance existing or establish new safety policies and procedures, and (4) advocate for the profession and for systemic change. CONCLUSION: Findings of the study suggest that occupational therapists implement various discrete strategies to prevent or reduce practice errors and improve client safety. Occupational therapy practice and professional training must emphasize the inevitability of practice errors; the importance of orientation and training, including assertiveness training; and the inclusion of performance-based competency checks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e69-e76
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical errors
  • Occupational therapy
  • Professional competence
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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