BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7494.798 (Published 31 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:798

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Floating in its lagoon of amniotic fluid, the fetus is well protected from most types of trauma. Motor vehicle crashes are an exception. A study from Washington state found an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes even when the mother had no apparent injury (American Journal of Epidemiology 2005161 : 503-10). Preterm labour and placental abruption were the commonest problems—perhaps because the shear forces at impact caused the placenta to separate from the uterus.

An editorial in the British Journal of Anaesthesia (2005;94: 413-6) celebrates rightly, if slightly belatedly, the 50th birthday of the longest running and arguably the most successful audit in medical history: the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths. It first reported in 1957 and has updated its findings regularly ever since. It must have saved the lives of many women. The latest report can be found at www.cemach.org.uk/

Opaque terminology and weasel words get in the way of plain talk and thought. The terms we use to discuss medical errors and patient safety are no exception. Despite their name, “serious reportable events” often remain unreported. A taxonomy is proposed which does away with adverse events, near misses, and close calls in favour of an inclusive classification schema based on notions of impact, type, domain, cause, prevention, and mitigation (International Journal for …

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