OBJECTIVES: Patient safety has emerged as an important topic for inclusion in medical curricula. However, there is limited literature describing how medical students are taught, learn and self-assess patient safety skills. The present study aimed to seek pre-clinical medical students' perceptions of (i) their individual performance at a range of safety skills; and (ii) how they define patient safety in a simulated ED.
METHODS: Data were collected in the form of questionnaire responses at the end of the Bond University Simulated ED activity in October 2014. The simulated ED is a session for pre-clinical medical students prior to their clinical rotations, aimed at preparing them for the clinical environment. Likert scale and short answer responses were used to describe students' perceptions of their safety skills and to identify themes related to patient safety.
RESULTS: Seventy-eight out of 92 students completed the questionnaires (85% response rate). The majority of students thought their patients were safe from adverse events during their shift. However, students' perception of patient safety was wide-ranging and demonstrated a number of misconceptions. The most frequent strategies employed by students to ensure patient safety were asking for help from nursing staff or senior doctors, ensuring good communication with the patient and checking allergies before administering medication.
CONCLUSION: Students had a favourable opinion of their own safety skills. However, answers to free text question revealed misconceptions about the nature of patient safety despite significant teaching on this topic.