Charles Bosk Wins Guggenheim Fellowship for a Book About Medical Errors

Charles Bosk Wins Guggenheim Fellowship for a Book About Medical Errors

Cited for 'Prior Achievement and Exceptional Promise'

Penn School of Arts and Sciences Sociology Professor and LDI Senior Fellow Charles Bosk, PhD, has received a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship grant to support work on a book entitled Mistakes Were Changed: An Ethnographic History of Medical Failure.

Charles Bosk, PhD, University of Pennsylvania


Charles Bosk, PhD

His new literary work explores the tension between professional and managerial definitions of "error," analyzes why improvements in patient safety and the quality of care have been elusive, and suggests new strategies for reducing harm to patients that move beyond the generalized concept of reducing "system error."

'Exceptional promise'
Bosk, who is also a Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, was one of 173 scholars selected for 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship grants from a field of nearly 3,000 candidates. The awards are based on "prior achievement and exceptional promise," according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Bosk explained that his overall research focuses on how health care professionals make sense of experiences in which time-pressured decisions are required in situations filled with un-resolvable uncertainty. "When those decisions lead to adverse outcomes, I am interested in which decisions are considered blameless and blameworthy," he said.

Three previous books
A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Bosk previously received the Leo G. Reeder Award for "distinguished contributions to Medical Sociology" from the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociology Association and is the author of three previous books:  Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure, All God's Mistakes: Genetic Counseling in a Pediatric Hospital, What Would You Do? Juggling Bioethics and Ethnography.