By the end of the twentieth century, the health-care industry was avid about getting its arms around the problem of error. The news about accidents among the rich and poor, famous and obscure was alarming the public and undermining its confidence in the profession. Malpractice claims were on the rise; so were monetary payouts. Insurers, hospitals, and physicians pushed back with “tort reform” designed to award and divert litigation. Since lawsuits often arose from treatment, “quality of care” initiatives grew as a method of preventing cases. All of these issues focused researchers on two problems. First, how should medical errors be defined? Second, how many of them were there?

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