Human error and patient safety: interdisciplinary course

National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education's picture
Submitted by National Center... on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:14am CDT


The medical community has only recently begun to address how human error affects patient safety. In order to confront human error in medicine, there is a need to teach students who are entering the health professions how potential errors may manifest and train them to prevent or mitigate these problems.


The objective is to describe a semester-long, interdisciplinary, human error and patient safety course taught at the University of South Florida.


Six interdisciplinary groups, composed of students from five of the university's colleges, were formed. The curriculum consisted of expert lecturers, readings, case studies, and analysis of patient safety problems. Students were evaluated based on their group's work on the final project and peer evaluations.


Nursing students scored the highest in each category evaluated. Physicians and medical students had the lowest evaluations in team participation and active engagement. All students rated the course highly and indicated that it enhanced their ability to work in interprofessional settings.


The students showed improved knowledge and substantive skill level relative to patient safety and human error concepts. Working in interdisciplinary teams gave the students a better understanding of the role each discipline can have in improving health care systems and health care delivery.

PubMed URL:

Wilson, Augustine R
Fabri, Peter J
Wolfson, Jay
Journal Citation: 
Teaching & Learning in Medicine. 24(1):18-25, 2012.