Date of Conferral







David Metcalf


Medical errors occur despite precautionary measures. Limited research has focused on intuition in preventing medical errors. The problem addressed in this study explored the role of intuition by health care team members in preventing medical errors from reaching hospitalized patients. The research questions focused on the differences in response to medical errors by health care team members from 3 West Coast hospitals. The theoretical framework included human error, personality typing, skill acquisition, and a model of intuition. In this exploratory mixed method study 1,836 unusual occurrence reports submitted over 6 months were analyzed. Of the 710 health care team members surveyed, 201 (28%) completed an intuitive score instrument. Eight health care team members were interviewed, with responses analyzed for themes of knowledge management implicit to intuition. The unusual occurrences results were categorized as near miss or adverse event and analyzed using t tests. There were no differences in a comparison of mean intuition scores for type of error and levels of intuition by participant age or gender. Differences were found in the number of documented constructs of intuition by type of error and discipline in the comparison of pharmacy to nursing and diagnostic imaging. Interview excerpts were compiled for use by managers to role model through storytelling how intuition can prevent medical errors. Research is needed to understand how to incorporate skills of tacit recognition and intuition. Preventing costly and potentially life-threatening medical errors is fundamental to addressing the societal need to lower costs and provide safer patient care.