Purpose: To determine whether a standardized patient encounter and self-guided tutorial would improve first-year residents’ self-efficacy for disclosing medical errors.
Method: In 2011, 55 first-year residents participated in a simulation in which they disclosed an error to a standardized patient playing the part of a family member. Residents completed the simulation twice, four weeks apart, and completed presession knowledge and self-efficacy (based on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education [ACGME] core competencies) assessments and repeated the self-efficacy assessment after the sessions. Residents reviewed the videos of their encounters either alone (self-debrief) or with a faculty observer (faculty debrief). Between sessions, they completed a self-paced learning tutorial. Two external faculty also rated the residents’ performances using videos of the encounters.
Results: Residents’ self-efficacy significantly increased from a Session 1 pretest mean (standard deviation) score of 119.6 (26.6) to a Session 2 posttest score of 150.3 (24.9) for all ACGME competencies (P < .001, Cohen's d = 1.19). The external reviewers’ ratings provided additional, objective support for residents’ improvement on questions assessing ACGME competencies (P = .001). Comparisons of the self-efficacy of residents in the self-debrief versus faculty debrief groups yielded no significant differences on any ACGME competencies.
Conclusions: Timely, explicit, and empathetic disclosure of medical errors to patients and family is essential to maintaining trust and is an important part of patient-centered medical care. This intervention easily could be replicated in other settings and is applicable to many members of the health care team, not just to residents.