Trends in Medical Error Education: Are We Failing Our Residents

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Internship and Residency; Medical Errors


Medical Education | Pediatrics


BACKGROUND: The Institute of Medicine has called for physician education as a key step in medical error prevention. In our 2002 national survey, pediatric resident education about medical error prevention was sporadic. We sought to describe the amount and type of pediatric resident training about medical errors and to assess the change in training since 2002.

METHODS: We surveyed a national sample of 50 pediatric chief residents randomly selected from the 198 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited residency programs from August to November 2010. The 31-item telephone survey was developed from the 2002 survey, with the addition of 10 items about electronic learning and resident quality improvement projects. The survey included 4 domains: current patient safety curriculum, chief resident knowledge, learning from medical errors, and demographics.

RESULTS: We phoned 55 chief residents and contacted 51. Fifty participated (90% participation rate). Ninety-four percent of chief residents stated that their program had a formalized curriculum to discuss medical errors, compared to only 50% (P < .001) in 2002. Ninety-six percent understood that the response to a medical error should be systemic change. The primary method for educating residents about medical error reported was informal teaching. Ninety-two percent reported never or rarely discussing medical error in an outpatient setting. Seventy-four percent of chief residents reported that they never or rarely learn from an error made by an attending physician, and 50% never or rarely learned from an error made by a fellow resident.

CONCLUSIONS: Although resident education about medical errors has improved since 2002, opportunities to model learning from mistakes are frequently missed. rights reserved.

DOI of Published Version



Acad Pediatr. 2013 Jan;13(1):59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2012.10.004. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Academic pediatrics

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID