British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 17, Iss. 14, 24 Jul 2008, pp 924 - 927
It is now accepted that human error in healthcare is inevitable and that a punitive response does not facilitate patient safety. Reasonís (2000) system approach acknowledges that adverse events, such as medication errors, rarely have a single explanation and advocates the review of systemic factors, such as organizational culture, management and strategy. Rational choice theory has much in common with the system approach but the emphasis is on understanding the decision-making process of those who make errors. It could therefore be used in conjunction with the system approach to enhance the ability of healthcare providers to learn from medication errors and other adverse events. The aim of this article is to explore the relationship between rational choice theory and the system approach to error management in nursing.