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TIME: Patient Safety and Quality Improvement

This three-day course occurs after return from winter break in Year Two. Students have completed the Longitudinal Clerkship and are finalizing the Genes to Society sections before Transition to the Wards. The course goals are to introduce the science of safety and quality and to develop knowledge and skills to practice within health care teams. It also promulgates the use of systems thinking in understanding complex health delivery systems and analyzing safety issues. The course is taught by an interdisciplinary group of faculty led by members of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Activities include lecture, small-group discussions, communications labs, case studies, a defect study investigation and an elderly patient simulation. 

Course Goals

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the magnitude of the patient safety problem in the United States.
  • Identify at least four ways patients can be harmed while receiving care.
  • Demonstrate provider actions that safeguard against harm from falls, health care-associated infections and medication errors.
  • Explain how safety reporting systems can help in identifying health care system hazards.
  • Describe the role of teamwork, communication and collaboration among various health team members and its role in advancing safety and quality of health care.
  • Apply four strategies to communicate safety concerns and resolve conflict with patients.
  • Articulate the importance of considering a patient’s disability and health literacy for clear communication with patients, particularly the elderly.
  • Apply the “Teach Back” method to ensure patient understanding.
  • Determine a patient’s fall risk and identify fall hazards in the patient environment.
  • Apply four steps to investigating an adverse event and use a systematic approach to uncover at least two contributing factors to the event using the Defect Investigation tool.
  • Describe system- and team-based strategies to eliminate and mitigate safety hazards.
  • Discuss the role of human factors in patient safety.
  • Verbalize basic elements of a medical error disclosure and critique a videotaped simulated disclosure.
  • Comment on the value of reporting a medical error.
  • Report medical errors through the institution’s anonymous reporting system.

Course Director



Susan Shultz
Medical Training Program Administrator

Time Commitment and Course Length

The course runs for 20 hours over three days.


Year One | Year Two | Year Three | Year Four

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