Skip to main content

Trainees' Perceptions of Patient Safety Practices: Recounting Failures of Supervision

Buy Article:

$12.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Background: Ensuring that trainees receive appropriate clinical supervision is one proven method for improving patient safety outcomes. Yet, supervision is difficult to monitor, even more so during advanced levels of training. The manner in which trainees' perceived failures of supervision influenced patient safety practices across disciplines and various levels of training was investigated.

Methods: A brief, open-ended questionnaire, administered to 334 newly hired interns, residents, and fellows, asked for descriptions of situations in which they witnessed a failure of supervision and their corresponding response.

Results: Of the 265 trainees completing the survey, 73 (27.5%) indicated having witnessed a failure of supervision. The analysis of these responses revealed three types of supervision failures—monitoring, guidance, and feedback. The necessity of adequate supervision and its accompanying consequences were also highlighted in the participants' responses.

Conclusions: The findings of this study identify two primary sources of failures of supervision: supervisors' failure to respond to trainees' seeking of guidance or clinical support and trainees' failure to seek such support. The findings suggest that the learning environment's influence was sufficient to cause trainees to value their appearance to superiors more than safe patient care, suggesting that trainees' feelings may supersede patients' needs and jeopardize optimal treatment. The literature on the impact of disruptive be havior on patient care may also improve understanding of how intimidating and abusive behavior stifles effective communication and trainees' ability to provide optimal patient care. Improved supervision and communication within the medical hierarchy should not only create more productive learning environments but also improve patient safety.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-02-01

More about this publication?
  • The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety will be published by Elsevier beginning in 2017! For readers who receive access to the journal through their institutions, the journal can now be found on ScienceDirect ( For librarians looking to subscribe to the journal for their institutions please contact your Elsevier Account Manager or visit for more information. All other readers, please visit to subscribe to the journal or to claim your access for an existing subscription.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Reprints and Permissions
  • Index
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more