Background: Patient safety education, including error prevention strategies and management of adverse events, has become a topic of worldwide concern. The importance of the patient safety is also recognized in Japan following two serious medical accidents in 1999. Furthermore, educational curriculum guideline revisions in 2008 by relevant the Ministry of Education includes patient safety as part of the core medical curriculum. However, little is known about the patient safety education in Japanese medical schools partly because a comprehensive study has not yet been conducted in this field. Therefore, we have conducted a nationwide survey in order to clarify the current status of patient safety education at medical schools in Japan. Results: Response rate was 60.0% (n = 48/80). Ninety-eight-percent of respondents (n = 47/48) reported integration of patient safety education into their curricula. Thirty-nine percent reported devoting less than five hours to the topic. All schools that teach patient safety reported use of lecture based teaching methods while few used alternative methods, such as role-playing or in-hospital training. Topics related to medical error theory and legal ramifications of error are widely taught while practical topics related to error analysis such as root cause analysis are less often covered. Conclusions: Based on responses to our survey, most Japanese medical schools have incorporated the topic of patient safety into their curricula. However, the number of hours devoted to the patient safety education is far from the sufficient level with forty percent of medical schools that devote five hours or less to it. In addition, most medical schools employ only the lecture based learning, lacking diversity in teaching methods. Although most medical schools cover basic error theory, error analysis is taught at fewer schools. We still need to make improvements to our medical safety curricula. We believe that this study has the implications for the rest of the world as a model of what is possible and a sounding board for what topics might be important.
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