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Patient safety room of horrors: a novel method to assess medical students and entering residents' ability to identify hazards of hospitalisation


Background Patient safety curricula in undergraduate medical education (UME) are often didactic format with little focus on skills training. Despite recent focus on safety, practical training in residency education is also lacking. Assessments of safety skills in UME and graduate medical education (GME) are generally knowledge, and not application-focused. We aimed to develop and pilot a safety-focused simulation with medical students and interns to assess knowledge regarding hazards of hospitalisation.

Methods A simulation demonstrating common hospital-based safety threats was designed. A case scenario was created including salient patient information and simulated safety threats such as the use of upper-extremity restraints and medication errors. After entering the room and reviewing the mock chart, learners were timed and asked to identify and document as many safety hazards as possible. Learner satisfaction was assessed using constructed-response evaluation. Descriptive statistics, including per cent correct and mean correct hazards, were performed.

Results All 86 third-year medical students completed the encounter. Some hazards were identified by a majority of students (fall risk, 83% of students) while others were rarely identified (absence of deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis, 13% of students). Only 5% of students correctly identified pressure ulcer risk. 128 of 131 interns representing 49 medical schools participated in the GME implementation. Incoming interns were able to identify a mean of 5.1 hazards out of the 9 displayed (SD 1.4) with 40% identifying restraints as a hazard, and 20% identifying the inappropriate urinary catheter as a hazard.

Conclusions A simulation showcasing safety hazards was a feasible and effective way to introduce trainees to safety-focused content. Both students and interns had difficulty identifying common hazards of hospitalisation. Despite poor performance, learners appreciated the interactive experience and its clinical utility.

  • Graduate medical education
  • Medical education
  • Safety culture

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