OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this survey study was to investigate occupational therapy practice errors in physical rehabilitation and geriatric practice settings.
METHOD. Two hundred and forty-five (245) out of 994 surveyed occupational therapists who have practiced or currently practice in physical rehabilitation or geriatrics settings responded to a self-developed questionnaire. Descriptive statistical analysis was used to describe practice errors as to the types, causes, impact on, and responses of occupational therapists and work sites. Inferential statistical analysis was used to explore the relationships among different variables of interest including: the effect of the number of years of practice experience on the perceived impact of making errors on practice; the relationship between disclosure or nondisclosure of errors; and the types of coping strategies used by occupational therapists and work site administrators’ responses to errors.
RESULTS. The vast majority of practice errors occurred during the intervention phase of the occupational therapy process. Misjudgment, lack of preparation, and lack of experience were reported as the top three causes of practice errors. Various coping strategies—such as compensating for the errors by voluntarily devoting additional time for care of the patient, making and following a corrective plan, concentrating on the next step, or not letting errors interfere with daily work—were used by the occupational therapists when errors occurred. The types of coping strategies and work site responses appeared to be associated with the disclosure or nondisclosure of errors.
CONCLUSION. Errors occur in occupational therapy practice. Making errors has considerable impact on occupational therapists as well as their future practice. However, disclosure of errors can often lead to positive outcomes.