Medical mistakes and errors are an unfortunate occurrence at hospitals and medical centers. Hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and as many as 400,000 patients die each year due to preventable medical errors.

In order to combat this problem, the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center launched two new pilot programs.

‘Room for Errors’

The Room of Errors initiative is a high-tech simulation lab where mannequins lie in cribs attached to various monitors. As part of a learning exercise, clinicians have seven minutes to identify problems. While each health care professional was able to identify about 30 problems, together they were able to spot 54 issues that would put the pediatric patient at risk.

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The idea is to train various health professionals (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, etc) to work together in order to improve communication, teamwork, and quality care. The program is situated in the pediatric department of the medical center.

The Situation Room

The second program, ‘The Situation Room,’ gathers  hospital administrators together each day to review errors made in the previous 24 hours.

The program, run by Dr. Richard Shannon, Vice President for Health Affairs at UVA, assembles more than 15 top administrators from various departments. The team examines the facts surrounding new infections and unexpected deaths, and then inspects the area of the hospital where the problem occurred.

As part of program, Shannon hopes to adjust hours so that PAs and NPs are on the same schedule as physicians.  Shannon also hopes to encourage nursing staff to attend rounds with physicians in order to share essential information.

These two initiatives are in a pilot period and may be rolled out to the entire facility.


  1. MacDonald I. “Simulation lab, war room help prevent medical errors, improve doc-nurse communication”. Fierce Healthcare. 2014. Retrieved from: