Patient safety

Evaluating patient safety education in Africa

The WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Guide for Medical Schools was published in 2009 to support the introduction and teaching of patient safety in medical schools worldwide. Four pilot sites in Ethiopia were recruited to participate in the evaluation study. The sites were able to introduce patient safety teaching and submit evaluation data during the 15-month study period. The table below presents the class size of the medical schools ranging from around 40–80 students.

The outcomes from the Ethiopian pilot study confirmed that the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Guide can support the introduction of patient safety teaching in to the curricula for all medical students. Educators and tutors valued having the detail of what could constitute a patient safety curriculum, with the resources required for developing teaching materials. They praised the support provided by the 'Teachers Guide' of the Curriculum Guide which helped them consider how best to introduce patient safety topics into existing curricula. The detail provided for each of the topics helped educators consider how case examples from Ethiopia could be used to illustrate patient safety teaching. However, the educators also highlighted the conditions and time required to successfully introduce patient safety teaching. Local support for patient safety teaching was important to allow appropriate time in the curriculum and resources for teaching.

In general, the Curriculum Guide was praised, educators emphasized the benefits of seeking out and incorporating local examples to support the teaching and student learning. The results suggest that at least in the weeks immediately following teaching, the Ethiopian students had improved knowledge of patient safety issues and in some case their attitudes and intentions had become more positive. Given the importance of patient safety and the challenges associated with addressing this problem, there is an ongoing need for efforts to address the difficulties of integrating effective patient safety education in to the curricula of health-care professionals across African universities and schools.

Following the successful implementation of the Curriculum Guide for Medical Schools, an updated edition aimed at a wider student population (medical, pharmacy, dental, nursing and midwifery) was released this month with pilot testing already under way.