Date Published: 2 December 2006

New patient safety education modules for junior doctors launched (UK)

The second and third modules of the Safe Foundations education programme that puts patient safety at the heart of training for junior doctors, are launched today by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).

Dr Maureen Baker, CBE, Head of Postgraduate Professional Education and Special Clinical Adviser at the NPSA said:

This educational programme, aimed at junior doctors working right at the front line of acute care in the NHS, benefits both doctors and patients."

The first module has received praise for its excellent and highly relevant content and is already proving a valuable aid to junior doctors in their Foundation years. These new modules will further develop their understanding of the principles of patient safety and how to be safe doctors.

The programme relates to the new curriculum for the foundation years of doctors’ training which has a strong emphasis on patient safety. To support this the NPSA commissioned the Education Unit of the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) to develop this educational programme ‘Safe foundations: junior doctors and patient safety’.

The first module ‘Principles of human error’ launched on 30 August 2006, introduced the key concepts and principles of human error. Participants learned to identify and classify error in relation to personal experience and recognise their significance. It helped them to relate causes of error to their own practice and recognise their role in reducing both human and systems error.

Module 2: ‘Principles of risk assessment’ covers the key concepts and processes of risk assessment reflecting the fact that, junior doctors as ‘front-line’ staff, have a leading role in the careful development and use of patient safety risk assessments.

It distinguishes between ‘reactive’ and ‘proactive’ approaches to risk assessment and teaches junior doctors to identify and apply the key elements and principles of risk assessment processes.

The third module ‘Safer systems’ helps junior doctors to consolidate their knowledge of safer systems and promotes a role for them in absorbing/reducing harm. It helps them to identify approaches to changing systems in order to improve patient safety and develop an understanding of their role as ‘harm absorbers’. They also learn to identify risk factors and risky situations.

The modules are hosted on which can be accessed online, free of charge. This resource is a joint partnership between the NPSA and the BMJ Publishing Group which aims to highlight the most important developments in patient safety.

Each module consists of a powerpoint presentation, supported by notes for teachers and learners. The fourth and final module ‘When things go wrong’ will be posted on the site shortly.

Each module lasts about ninety minutes and can be taken separately or together with the others, depending on the educational opportunities available in different areas. The modules have all been piloted in postgraduate deaneries and both teachers and learners are invited to complete evaluation forms, allowing for the programme to be modified and improved as time goes on.

To complement the programme, the NPSA’s award winning ‘Medical error’ booklet is also available to order, free of charge, by Deaneries in England and Wales through Medical error, which recently won two Chartered Institute of Public Relation Excellence awards, features personal accounts from leading doctors about their own errors.


Source: National Patient Safety Agency (UK).

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