Table 1

 Case examples of student involvement in prevention of medical error

NoDescription of eventContributing factors or problemsRole of medical studentLessons learned
OR, operating room; DNR, do not resuscitate; MAR, medication administration record.
1Non-sterile prepped limb noticed before incisionPoor team communication Assumptions of OR staff responsibilities OR culture and hierarchy limiting communication Daily variation of OR team membersObservations of procedures and deviations from the norm prompted the student to question the omission of sterile techniqueDon’t assume anything; keep a suspect eye when things do not look correct Err on the side of caution, err in favor of the patient Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you are wrong Learn proper sterile techniques
2Drugs ordered but not administeredDrug order system requires transcription from hand written order to computer based MAR No formal practice of confirming that ordered drugs are administeredDrug administration was not confirmedStudents are in a position to follow the practice of checking orders are carried out and medications administered
3DNR order not followedNo system for alerting DNR orders to team Student hesitant to communicate knowledge of DNR orderCommunicated DNR order to teamStudents encouraged to communicate with team members when there are questions about proper procedures
4Infection exposureLanguage barrier Emergency setting Complete history not takenStudent initiated translator consult Obtained history suggestive of tuberculosis Initiated respiratory precautionsEffective communication is vital in patient safety When language barriers arise, translators must be used to ensure safe patient care