Intended for healthcare professionals


Improving patient safety through education

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 09 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d214
  1. Simon Paterson-Brown, chairman
  1. 1Patient Safety Board, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9DW, UK
  1. simon.paterson-brown{at}

A window of opportunity exists to include training in human factors in undergraduate and postgraduate training

The recent abolition of the National Patient Safety Agency1 is hardly reassuring news following a series of reports that have unveiled levels of inadequacy in the provision of healthcare that shame us all, even if only by proxy. Around one in 10 patients admitted to hospital experiences an adverse event not directly related to their condition,2 and with an estimated 234 million operations carried out worldwide each year,3 the scale of the problem, not just from a surgical perspective, is huge.

P Marazzi/SPL

There is little hope on the horizon of any further investment, and morale in many areas of the UK healthcare system remains low. Clinical and financial targets now dominate the horizon, with education and training forced into the back seat. The previous long hours and fatigue felt by many trainees have been reduced by the European Working Time Directive. Instead they have been replaced by more intense shiftwork patterns, which in themselves have been unpopular and …

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