Error reports, whether filed on paper or through the Web, and whether routed to the hospital's safety officer or to a federal regulator, can be divided into three main categories: anonymous, confidential, and open. Anonymous reports are ones in which there is no identifying information asked of the reporter. Although they have the advantage of encouraging reporting, anonymous systems have the disadvantage of preventing necessary follow-up questions from being answered. In a confidential reporting system, the identity of the reporter is known but shielded from authorities such as regulators and representatives of the legal system (except in cases of clear professional misconduct or criminal acts). Such systems tend to capture more useful data than anonymous systems, because follow-up questions can be asked. The key to these systems, of course, is that reporters must trust that they are truly confidential. Finally, in open reporting systems all people and places are publicly identified. These systems have a relatively poor track record in healthcare, because the potential for unwanted publicity and blame is very strong, and it is often easy for individuals to cover up errors (even with “mandatory” reporting).