Nursing Students and Patient Safety: Errors, Curriculum, and Perspectives

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Raymond, June
nursing education, nursing students , patient safety
Healthcare is a high reliability industry designed to improve, preserve, and protect the health of citizens (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2000). Events that affect patient safety have been reported with increasing regularity since the emphasis on patient safety in the early 2000’s (IOM). Nursing care significantly affects patient outcomes. The IOM mandated transformation of health education to incorporate patient safety concepts in the United States and this has gradually influenced health education globally (2003). Nursing education programs are designed to increase students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) and students’ confidence levels are indicators of their KSAs. Gaining insight into what errors students are making will reveal where KSAs are weak and where educational transformation may be required. Although teaching patient safety concepts is important, studies exploring this are limited. Research exploring patient safety content in nursing curricula in Ontario could not be found in the existing literature. This study found that the greatest number of nursing student errors reported in the literature are linked to medication administration followed by errors related to the environment, equipment, and devices (Raymond, Godfrey, & Medves, 2016a). Despite medication administration errors occurring the most often, students expressed the greatest confidence in this area and it seemed to be the most abundantly integrated in the written curriculum. After reviewing three nursing curricula, it was noted that patient safety content was incorporated within each of the reviewed programs to a different degree (Raymond et al., 2016b). Students are more confident on patient safety topics in the classroom than in the clinical settings and there were no educationally significant differences noted between baccalaureate and practical nursing students’ confidence levels. Although both baccalaureate and practical nursing students fear repercussions when making an error, a greater percentage of practical nursing students expressed this concern (Raymond et al., 2016c; 2016d). Higher percentages of practical than baccalaureate nursing students felt errors were addressed as individual mistakes instead of system issues (Raymond et al., 2016c, 2016d). This research suggests that further initiatives aimed at reducing students’ fears while focusing on errors as system issues within both classroom and clinical settings are needed.
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