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Medical morbidity and mortality conferences: past, present and future
  1. J George
  1. Department of Elderly Medicine, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr J George, Department of Elderly Medicine, Cumberland Infirmary, Newtown Road, Carlisle, Cumbria CA2 7HY, UK;{at}


Morbidity and mortality conferences (MMCs) have three potential aims—to improve patient safety by reducing adverse events and preventable deaths, to improve overall quality of care as part of the hospital governance structure and as educational learning events. At present, medical MMCs vary widely in format and attendance from hospital to hospital. The evidence for MMCs actually reducing adverse events and preventing avoidable deaths is disappointing. There is better evidence for their educational role. The majority of medical deaths in hospitals are frail older people with poor life expectancy in whom inadequate care is more likely to be due to errors of omission rather than commission. Medical MMCs should be multidisciplinary and led by a senior clinician to encourage discussion and reflection in a ‘blame-free’ environment. They should be learning events for both clinicians and the organisation as a whole with a structure to support this.

  • morbidity and mortality conferences
  • safety
  • hospital governance
  • omission errors
  • preventable deaths

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.