Animated stories of medical error as a means of teaching undergraduates patient safety: an evaluation study

Perspect Med Educ. 2019 Apr;8(2):118-122. doi: 10.1007/s40037-019-0498-1.


Background: Storytelling is a powerful form of communication which can improve attention and lead to lasting behavioural changes. Addressing the need to incorporate patient safety teaching into undergraduate medical curricula, it was hypothesized that medical students could benefit from hearing clinician stories of medical error. The medium of animation was considered to be a potentially engaging means of presenting stories of error to a large audience.

Methods: Three animated videos were developed to accompany audio recordings of junior doctors describing their experiences of a serious incident or near-miss event. The videos were delivered to 200 final-year medical students with a subsequent large-group discussion directed at understanding contributory factors. An evaluative questionnaire exploring learners' reactions and modification of beliefs and perception was distributed. The questionnaire included questions rated on a modified Likert scale and a free-text box. A mixed-methods analysis was conducted with descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis of the free-text responses.

Results: Of the 200 students who attended, 104 completed the questionnaire and 83 completed free-text feedback. Most students responded positively to hearing stories of medical error and felt that the animated videos improved their engagement while the voice recordings helped bring the cases to life. The majority of students agreed the session would impact on their future practice.

Conclusion: This pilot study confirmed that undergraduate students consider animated, personal stories of medical error an effective, engaging means of learning about patient safety. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm if measurable behaviour change is achieved.

Keywords: Medical Animation; Medical Error; Patient Safety Education; Storytelling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Curriculum / trends*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Medical Errors
  • Patient Safety / standards*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Report / statistics & numerical data
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Videotape Recording / methods
  • Work Engagement