Assessing the impact of teaching patient safety principles to medical students during surgical clerkships

Kenneth Stahl, Jeffrey Augenstein, Carl I. Schulman, Katherine Wilson, Mark Mckenney, Alan Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: A critical aspect of enhancing patient safety is modifying the healthcare safety culture. We hypothesize that students who participate in safety curricula are knowledgeable regarding patient safety and likely to intervene to avoid patient errors. Methods: A two-part patient safety curriculum was taught: introductory theories (first year) and a clinically oriented course during surgery rotations (third year). All students participated in the first year introduction and a random cohort of students (62.6%, N = 67) participated in the third year program. Multiple choice tests and web-based surveys were administered. Statistical analysis was carried out using Student's t-test for comparisons of test mean scores and z-test for comparison of the survey data. Results: Students who participated in both years' curricula scored higher on didactic test than those who participated in only the first year course (82.9% versus 75.5%, P < 0.001). More students participating in both portions of the curricula intervened during at least one clinical encounter to avoid a patient error (77% versus 61%, P < 0.05). Students rated junior house-staff more receptive to patient safety suggestions than surgical fellows and faculty (84% versus 66%, P < 0.05); 75% of students rated their surgical clerkship exposure to patient safety somewhat/extremely valuable compared with 54% students who rated the first year exposure as somewhat/extremely valuable (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Medical students who have practical applications of patient safety education reinforced during surgery rotations are knowledgeable and willing to intervene in patient safety concerns. Teaching clinically relevant patient safety skills influences positive behavioral changes in medical students' performance on surgical teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e29-e40
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • crew resource management
  • culture patient safety residents and staff
  • medical student education
  • patient safety
  • team training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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