Background: The need to provide efficient, effective, and safe patient care is of paramount importance. However, most physicians receive little or no formal training to prepare them to address patient safety challenges within their clinical practice.
Methods: We describe a comprehensive Patient Safety Learning Program (PSLP) for internal medicine and medicine-pediatrics residents. The curriculum is designed to teach residents key concepts of patient safety and provided opportunities to apply these concepts in the "real" world in an effort to positively transform patient care. Residents were assigned to faculty expert-led teams and worked longitudinally to identify and address patient safety conditions and problems. The PSLP was assessed by using multiple methods.
Results: Resident team-based projects resulted in changes in several patient care processes, with the potential to improve clinical outcomes. However, faculty evaluations of residents were lower for the Patient Safety Improvement Project rotation than for other rotations. Comments on "unsatisfactory" evaluations noted lack of teamwork, project participation, and/or responsiveness to faculty communication. Participation in the PSLP did not change resident or faculty attitudes toward patient safety, as measured by a comprehensive survey, although there was a slight increase in comfort with discussing medical errors.
Conclusions: Development of the PSLP was intended to create a supportive environment to enhance resident education and involve residents in patient safety initiatives, but it produced lower faculty evaluations of resident for communication and professionalism and did not have the intended positive effect on resident or faculty attitudes about patient safety. Further research is needed to design or refine interventions that will develop more proactive resident learners and shift the culture to a focus on patient safety.