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Medical students are the future leaders in the healthcare industry, and it is essential that they are skillful and knowledgeable in regards to patient safety. Patient safety involves commitment from health care providers, entities, etc., to practice safely and do no harm. To reduce errors caused by healthcare is a global priority and medical students must practice a patient safety curriculum.


Patient Safety & Concerns

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient throughout the process of health care and lowering of risk of unnecessary harm associated with healthcare to an acceptable minimum. Patient safety is a growing global concern, and there is a one in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during patient care. Furthermore, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that while in a hospital, one in 10 patients are harmed. The patient harm includes a range of incidents, but nearly 50 percent of these events could be prevented.

Outside of the hospital, patient safety is still a major concern for the healthcare industry. Unsafe and wrong use of medications harms millions and costs billions. Again, according to WHO, the costs associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42 billion annually and does not include additional healthcare costs, and lost wages or productivity.


Importance of Patient Safety Curriculum

Investing in increasing patient safety and decreasing incidents and errors will not only lead to significant improvements for patients but will also lead to financial savings. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), focused safety improvements lead to an estimated $28 billion in savings from 2010 to 2015 in the United States alone. Incorporating the knowledge of how to increase patient safety into the medical student curriculum is an urgent necessity not only to save lives but to lower healthcare costs.

It cannot be safely assumed that concepts of patient safety will be learned after graduation from medical school and although quality and safety is now widely taught in medical schools, it has been less widely evaluated. Efforts to incorporate patient safety learning have generally focused on two main areas: integrating formal training in patient safety into medical education and examining and improving the safety of care at teaching hospitals.


Medical school education plays a vital role in teaching and promoting patient safety. If medical students are skillful and knowledgeable in regards to patient safety before they enter the workplace, there is a lower chance of patient harm incidents. While medical students may already have a favorable view of patient safety, they must be exposed to formal patient safety curriculums before they enter the healthcare field.


Mitra Rangarajan is an expert in the healthcare field and strives to empower patients to take charge of their health and safety. Read more on her patient safety research here!