“A window of opportunity exists to include training in human factors in undergraduate and postgraduate training.”
Simon Paterson-Brown, Chair of the Patient Safety Board, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Writing in the BMJ early this month and citing the work of the Clinical Human Factors Group, Simon Paterson-Brown clearly identifies human factors education as a key factor necessary for improvements in patient safety in the years ahead. BMJ editorial BMJ 2011; 342:d214 doi (Published 9 February 2011)
But his optimism is tempered by real concern that: “No evidence exists to suggest that these opportunities are being realised, so there is a very real danger that one of the greatest chances to radically change medical culture and practice in the United Kingdom might be lost for the next generation.”
He calls on those currently tasked with the education, training, and assessment of doctors in the UK to: “rise to this challenge now or patients will continue to experience unnecessary and often life threatening complications from their medical treatment.”
During March, we worked with UCL Partners and UCLH to contribute to a pilot programme for a multi-professional group of undergraduate healthcare professionals. In order to emphasise the direct consequences of safety and quality improvement each session began with a PATIENTSTORIES film from our growing library.
The three-day programme covered aspects of what was described as the hitherto “hidden curriculum” and in particular focused on practical skills and approaches that can improve safety.
Dr Jean McEwan, Sub-Dean for UCL Medical School and UCLH Director of Undergraduate Medical Education said: “The films from PATIENTSTORIES provided a powerful and poignant reminder of the real human consequences of error in healthcare. No healthcare professional wants to harm patients but we still have a long way to ensure that improvements to create safer clinical systems are part of professional cultures and not just an add-on”
Dr James Mountford, Director of Quality for UCL Partners who was one of the lead designers for the programme said “Undergraduate healthcare professionals have a key role to play in leading change” He continued, “Not only are they the professional leaders of the future but by voluntarily participating in this pilot programme, our delegates are already demonstrating leadership qualities within their peer group. We want them to feel empowered to use that position to effect change now.”
A full evaluation of the pilot programme will be conducted and a BMJ publication is planned.