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Medical Schools Fail in Teaching of Patient-Safety

The National Patient Safety Foundation is concerned about the state of medical schools. Specifically, according a report released by the Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute, med schools are not doing well at imparting , “basic knowledge and the development of skills required for the provision of safe patient care.” according to “Unmet Needs: Teaching Physicians to Provide Safe Patient Care,” a report issued by the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute.

The report, entitled, “Unmet Needs: Teaching Physicians to Provide Safe Patient Care,” summarizes the 40-person roundtable discussions that met in October, 2008 and June 2009. It also includes twelve recommendations and two major points, at least according to Lucian Leape, the Institute’s namesake and a Harvard Medical School adjunct professor of health policy.

At a press conference, Leape said that the most obvious point in the report is that our medical schools need to improve their teaching of patient safety, including facets like “…the role of human-factor engineering and related patient-safety communication and collaboration skills.” He also sad that the less obvious point that must be corrected is that, “…too often, the students are being educated in a toxic environment….” He said up to 5% of physicians who mistreat students, nurses, and residents are allowed to “poison the well” by fostering a “shame-and-blame culture” that perpetuates medical errors.

The Association of American Medical Colleges chief academic officer, John Prescott, also spoke to the press, stressing that, “Educating new doctors about patient safety is a top priority…” of his organization. He also said that many of the article’s recommendations were already being implemented.

According to a third speaker, Harvard Medical School student Jordan Bohnen, teamwork training is scant, and “public belittling or humiliation” of students is still common practice in teaching hospitals.

It is generally understood that patient safety is an important part of medical care.

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