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Is Physician Mentorship Associated With the Occurrence of Adverse Patient Safety Events?

Harrison, Reema PhD*; Sharma, Anurag PhD*; Lawton, Rebecca PhD; Stewart, Kevin FRCP

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000592
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Background Mentorship has been identified as a beneficial practice for doctors and key aspect of continuing professional development, associated with a number of potential clinical and nonclinical gains. The likely contribution of mentorship to enhancing patient safety is acknowledged, but there is a dearth of empirical studies that attempt to make associations between the impact of mentorship for physicians on patient safety outcomes. This article begins to fill this gap by exploring whether a physician with a mentor reports having fewer near-misses or adverse events, compared with a physician with no mentor.

Methods An online survey was administered to fellows and members of the Royal College of Physicians London using their membership database in April 2013. Adverse events and near misses are modeled as two separate binary variables using a logit regression framework with “having a mentor” being the main covariate. The marginal effect of this covariate captures the effect of mentorship on adverse events.

Results A total of 1755 doctors (37% female) responded who represented all internal medical specialties. Our results show that compared with physicians with no mentor, the probability of getting involved in an adverse event or near miss is reduced by 12.69% (95% confidence interval = −17.41 to −7.98) and 11.12% (95% confidence interval = −15.84 to −6.41) for physicians with a mentor.

Conclusions Having a mentor may contribute toward minimizing preventable harm to patients, which is a priority for health systems internationally, but longer-term studies of mentorship are necessary to determine the aspects of mentorship that are particularly important for enhancing patient safety outcomes.

From the *School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Room 308, Samuels Building, High St, Kensington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia;

University of Leeds; Institute for Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds; and

Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, Farnborough, United Kingdom.

Correspondence: Reema Harrison, PhD, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Room 308, Samuels Building, High St, Kensington, Sydney, Australia NSW 2052 (e-mail: reema.harrison@unsw.edu.au).

The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

This work was an unfunded study that received institutional support (administrative assistance) from the Royal College of Physicians London.

This anonymous membership survey was reviewed and approved by the Royal College of Physicians London for distribution to their membership list.

The participant consent form confirmed that all participants consented to the deidentified data being used for publication purposes.

The data sets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

All of the listed authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and to the final approval of the version to be published as set out in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. R.H., K.S., and R.L. were responsible for the conception and design of the study. R.H. and K.S. were responsible for organizing the administration of the survey. A.S. was responsible for developing the analytic strategy. R.H. and A.S. were responsible for the analysis of the data. All authors contributed to the development of the manuscript and final manuscript.

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