Physical therapists' perspectives on practice errors in geriatric, neurologic, or orthopedic clinical settings

Teresa M. Cochran, Keli Mu, Helene Lohman, Linda S. Scheirton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


While practice errors have been studied extensively in medicine and pharmacy, little research exists in physical therapy. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of physical therapy practice errors in geriatric, adult neurologic, and orthopedic clinical settings. Thirty physical therapists with three or more years of practice experience participated in the study, representing four geographically distinct regions of the United States. Four focus groups were conducted via guided discussion questions in four different states. Collected data were transcribed and analyzed by using constant comparative method. Data analysis yielded five major themes including: 1) taxonomy of error, 2) aversive outcomes, 3) individual and systematic causes, 4) post hoc actions, and 5) prevention of future errors. Because human errors are inevitable in physical therapy practice, understanding of causes and prevention strategies is necessary to minimize harm to patients. In addition, physical therapists must recognize their role and responsibility in creating a culture of error analysis and error prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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