Patient safety education at U.S. and Canadian medical schools: results from the 2006 Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine survey

Acad Med. 2009 Dec;84(12):1672-6. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bf98a4.


Purpose: To describe current patient safety curricula at U.S. and Canadian medical schools and identify factors associated with adoption of these programs.

Method: A survey was mailed to institutional members of the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine at U.S. and Canadian academic medical schools in 2006. Respondents self-reported implementation of patient safety curricula and associated methods of instruction at the institution level.

Results: The survey had a 76% response rate (83/110). Only 25% of institutional members reported that their schools had explicit patient safety curricula. All respondents that reported having curricula use lectures and small-group instruction, and these were more likely to occur in preclinical settings. Topics and methods of instruction included reporting adverse incidents and analysis of medical errors; improvement of physician order writing to prevent medication errors; core measures; national patient safety goals; and standardization of medical care through the use of clinical guidelines and order set templates. Although only 25% of respondents reported having explicit curricula, 72% agreed that patient safety instruction should occur during medical school.

Conclusions: Despite calls from regulatory, medical, and educational organizations to increase patient safety training of medical students, internal medicine clerkship directors report that few schools in the United States and Canada have implemented specific patient safety curricula. Most existing patient safety curricula use lecture and small-group discussion as preferred methods of instruction.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Safety Management
  • United States