Background: National organizations have called for patient safety curricula to help reduce the incidence of errors. Little is known about what trainees are taught about medical errors.
Objective: 1) To determine the amount and type of training that pediatric residents have about medical errors and 2) to assess pediatric chief resident knowledge about medical errors.
Methods: We surveyed chief residents from a national sample of 51 pediatric training programs by selecting every fourth program from the American Council on Graduate Medical Education list of accredited programs. The 21-item telephone survey was developed with patient safety specialists and piloted on several chief residents. It asked about patient-safety training sessions and awareness and knowledge about medical errors.
Results: The 51 chief residents helped teach 2176 residents, approximately one third of all pediatric residents. One third of programs had no lectures about medical errors and 23% did not have morbidity and mortality rounds. Sixty-one percent of respondents stated that outpatient medical errors were rarely discussed. Informal teaching was most often reported as the primary method for educating residents about medical errors. Although 58% of respondents did not know that a systemic change should be made in response to a medical error, 83% felt that residents are adequately trained to deal with a medical error.
Discussion: Pediatric resident education about medical errors varies widely. Attention by pediatric residency training programs to this important issue seems limited.