Patient safety during final-year clerkships: A qualitative study of possible error sources and of the potential of Entrustable Professional Activities

Anja Czeskleba, Ylva Holzhausen, Harm Peters
GMS Journal for Medical Education 2019, 36 (2): Doc18
Aim: In final-year clerkships, such as the Practical Year in Germany, students' workplace learning has to be balanced with the ensuring of patient safety. In this qualitative study, we investigated problems concerning patient safety as perceived from the perspective of supervising physicians, and whether and to what extent Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) can lead to an improvement in patient safety. Method: Data was collected through focus groups. Participants were specialist physicians with experience of final-year clerkship training (n=11). The analysis of problems influencing patient safety was carried out deductively with an existing system of categories (error factors in the clinic). To identify potential improvements through EPAs, an inductively developed category system on the influence of EPAs in final-year clerkships was used. Results: Supervising physicians perceive a variety of problems which affect patient safety. These can be found in the categories organization and management, individual factors, task factors and work environment. The physicians feel that EPAs may lead to an improvement in training and subsequently in patient safety. Their comments can be collated to the categories improvement in training, performance levels and supporting learning processes, transparency and minimizing uncertainty. Conclusions: Statements by supervising physicians indicate a variety of problems in patient safety during the training of final-year clerkship students, for instance the lack of structure to the training. In their view, the implementation of EPAs can substantially reduce such risks, as they provide better content and organizational structure to the final-year clerkship.

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