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Patient Safety Education at U.S. and Canadian Medical Schools: Results From the 2006 Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine Survey

Alper, Eric MD; Rosenberg, Eric I. MD, MSPH; O'Brien, Kevin E. MD; Fischer, Melissa MD, MEd; Durning, Steven J. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bf98a4
Quality and Safety

Purpose To describe current patient safety curricula at U.S. and Canadian medical schools and identify factors associated with adoption of these programs.

Method A survey was mailed to institutional members of the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine at U.S. and Canadian academic medical schools in 2006. Respondents self-reported implementation of patient safety curricula and associated methods of instruction at the institution level.

Results The survey had a 76% response rate (83/110). Only 25% of institutional members reported that their schools had explicit patient safety curricula. All respondents that reported having curricula use lectures and small-group instruction, and these were more likely to occur in preclinical settings. Topics and methods of instruction included reporting adverse incidents and analysis of medical errors; improvement of physician order writing to prevent medication errors; core measures; national patient safety goals; and standardization of medical care through the use of clinical guidelines and order set templates. Although only 25% of respondents reported having explicit curricula, 72% agreed that patient safety instruction should occur during medical school.

Conclusions Despite calls from regulatory, medical, and educational organizations to increase patient safety training of medical students, internal medicine clerkship directors report that few schools in the United States and Canada have implemented specific patient safety curricula. Most existing patient safety curricula use lecture and small-group discussion as preferred methods of instruction.

Dr. Alper is associate professor of medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Rosenberg is assistant professor of medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Dr. O'Brien is associate professor of medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Fischer is assistant professor of medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Durning is associate professor of medicine and pathology, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Alper, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Medicine, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655; telephone: (508) 334-8515; e-mail: (Eric.Alper@umassmemorial.org).

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges