Patient Safety in Medical Education

A very important aspect of medical education that had been overlooked for a long time is patient safety. When patient safety in medical education gets relegated to the backseat; the result is there for everyone to see: something like close to a 100,000 deaths at the turn of the previous century, according to the alarming results of a comprehensive study carried out by the Institute of Medicine. The tragedy of these deaths is that these were preventable. This reinforces the belief that patient safety in medical education is the core factor, which if handled properly, can save thousands of lives.


How does patient safety in medical education come about?

It goes without saying that physicians and other caregivers practice in their professions what they learn in schools. So, patient safety in medical education has to be incorporated into the curriculum at the earliest stages. Hospitals, medical colleges and other institutes that impart medical education have now started taking more than mere baby steps in inculcating patient safety in medical education as a core part of teaching, the already heavily burdened curriculum in medical education notwithstanding.

Efforts by medical education bodies

Following the publication of the IOM report, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Curriculum Management and Information Tool (CurrMit) in the US and Medical Schools Council and the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK sprang into action, announcing a slew of measures aimed at bringing about and reinforcing patient safety in medical education.


Entire lessons and chapters are devoted to patient safety in medical education. Keywords and technical jargon relating to patient safety are now a highly visible aspect of patient safety in medical education. These are spread across all disciples and subjects of medical education, be it gynecology or anesthetics.

What should curricula teach about patient safety in medical education?

Apart from emphasizing the criticality of patient safety in the curricula; medical textbooks and other sources of education heavily stress the importance of patient safety by filling the curricula with patient safety-related keywords such as "human error", "medication error", "adverse event", "quality improvement", and so on.

More importantly, those who study medicine at various levels, such as medical undergraduates, graduates, post graduates and those pursuing even higher studies have to be made aware of the need for making patient safety a part of their practice culture. It should be embedded into their very thought process. Safety improvement tools have to be implanted irrevocably into their thinking and practice to the extent that it becomes second nature to them. This should be implemented by them at every stage throughout their careers. This is the entire aim of patient safety in medical education.