Online patient safety education programme for junior doctors: is it worthwhile?
BACKGROUND: Increasing demand exists for blended approaches to the development of professionalism. Trainees of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland participated in an online patient safety programme.
AIMS: Study aims were: (1) to determine whether the programme improved junior doctors' knowledge, attitudes and skills relating to error reporting, open communication and care for the second victim and (2) to establish whether the methodology facilitated participants' learning.
METHODS: 208 junior doctors who completed the programme completed a pre-online questionnaire. Measures were "patient safety knowledge and attitudes", "medical safety climate" and "experience of learning". Sixty-two completed the post-questionnaire, representing a 30 % matched response rate.
RESULTS: Participating in the programme resulted in immediate (p < 0.01) improvement in skills such as knowing when and how to complete incident forms and disclosing errors to patients, in self-rated knowledge (p < 0.01) and attitudes towards error reporting (p < 0.01). Sixty-three per cent disagreed that doctors routinely report medical errors and 42 % disagreed that doctors routinely share information about medical errors and what caused them. Participants rated interactive features as the most positive elements of the programme.
CONCLUSIONS: An online training programme on medical error improved self-rated knowledge, attitudes and skills in junior doctors and was deemed an effective learning tool. Perceptions of work issues such as a poor culture of error reporting among doctors may prevent improved attitudes being realised in practice. Online patient safety education has a role in practice-based initiatives aimed at developing professionalism and improving safety.