Background: Medical residents are key figures in delivering health care and an important target group for patient safety education. Reporting incidents is an important patient safety domain, as awareness of vulnerabilities could be a starting point for improvements. This study examined effects of patient safety education for residents on knowledge, skills, attitudes, intentions and behavior concerning incident reporting.
Methods: A controlled study with follow-up measurements was conducted. In 2007 and 2008 two patient safety courses for residents were organized. Residents from a comparable hospital acted as external controls. Data were collected in three ways: 1] questionnaires distributed before, immediately after and three months after the course, 2] incident reporting cards filled out by course participants during the course, and 3] residents' reporting data gathered from hospital incident reporting systems.
Results: Forty-four residents attended the course and 32 were external controls. Positive changes in knowledge, skills and attitudes were found after the course. Residents' intentions to report incidents were positive at all measurements. Participants filled out 165 incident reporting cards, demonstrating the skills to notice incidents. Residents who had reported incidents before, reported more incidents after the course. However, the number of residents reporting incidents did not increase. An increase in reported incidents was registered by the reporting system of the intervention hospital.
Conclusions: Patient safety education can have immediate and long-term positive effects on knowledge, skills and attitudes, and modestly influence the reporting behavior of residents.