Planning and implementing a systems-based patient safety curriculum in medical education

David A. Thompson, James Cowan, Christine Holzmueller, Albert W. Wu, Eric Bass, Peter Pronovost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a successful 6-step approach to medical curriculum development, a multidisciplinary systems-based safety curriculum for first-year medical students was developed and implemented. A targeted needs assessment was completed based on students' perceptions of patient safety. Goals and objectives identified were the following: (1) provide a practical framework to identify defects, (2) identify patient hazards, (3) investigate an adverse event, (4) understand incident reporting, (5) understand the impact of teamwork and communication in safety, (6) acquire skills to improve teamwork and communication, and (7) learn to disclose medical mistakes. Students were able to identify many of the teamwork and communication problems entrenched in our current health care culture. Interactive learning was important to the learning process and, on evaluation, deemed a valuable experience. The findings indicate that this is an effective curriculum development strategy and that systems-based patient safety was effective in changing perceptions of patient harm and the provider's role in patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Curriculum
  • Medical students
  • Patient safety
  • Systems-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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