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Effectiveness of patient safety training in equipping medical students to recognise safety hazards and propose robust interventions
  1. L W Hall1,2,
  2. S D Scott2,
  3. K R Cox2,
  4. J W Gosbee3,
  5. B J Boshard1,
  6. K Moylan1,
  7. K C Dellsperger1
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine, Columbia School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri, USA
  2. 2University of Missouri Health Care, Columbia, Missouri, USA
  3. 3Red Forest Consulting, LLC, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leslie W Hall, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia, Room 202A, Columbia, MO 65212; halllw{at}


Objectives In an effort to improve patient safety attitudes and skills among third-year medical students, two patient safety training sessions were added to their curriculum, complementing a previously implemented second-year curriculum on quality improvement, patient safety and teamwork.

Methods Safety attitudes and skills were assessed before and after students completed the medicine clerkship training and were compared with historical controls. Students identified and reported on observed safety events, with their reports matched to event type and harm score with contemporaneous safety reports from University of Missouri's Patient Safety Network (PSN). Comparisons were assessed by five internal safety experts using criteria for report submission “worthiness”, blame tone, target of blame and presence/strength of proposed solutions.

Results Students completing the third-year safety booster conferences expressed statistically higher comfort levels with identifying the cause of an error than did the student control group (p<0.05). Medical students proposed safety interventions that were more robust than those suggested by event reporters regarding similar events within our health system (p<0.0001). The worthiness and blame tone of medical student reports were not statistically different than event reports in PSN.

Conclusions Completion of two 1-h patient safety booster conferences in the third year of medical school led to increased student comfort in safety event analysis. Students documented stronger resolution robustness scores, suggesting similar training should be offered to PSN reporters. Medical students represent an underutilised resource for identifying and proposing solutions for patient safety issues.

  • Patient safety
  • adverse event
  • medical education
  • health professions education
  • human factors

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Although this was not a formal trial, because students were tested for safety attitudes and skills, ethics approval was sought and obtained (deemed “exempt” due to educational intervention) from the University of Missouri Health Sciences Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.