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Screen Savers as an Adjunct to Medical Education on Patient Safety

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Background: Many health care organizations use screen savers on the computer terminals in patient care areas to provide educational messages and announcements for staff and patients. The effectiveness of screen savers for educating medical students about patient safety was investigated.

Methods: Screen savers were designed to teach 10 patient safety concepts based on The Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goals. Two similar academic medical centers, one which already had a screen-saver system and one which did not, were selected for the study. The third-year medical students rotating at the intervention medical center were exposed to the patient safety screen savers throughout their three-to-four-week rotations, while students rotating at the control site were not. All students were given a multiple choice test of patient safety concepts before the start of their first rotation and again after its completion.

Results: The median pretest score for the intervention and control groups was 45% (interquartile range [IQR], 40%–55%) and 40% (IQR, 35%–50%), respectively. The median improvement in test scores was 15% for both the 11 students in the control group (IQR, 10%–25%) and the 27 students in the intervention group (IQR: 10%–20%)—both at p < .001.

Conclusions: Students showed some improvement in patient safety knowledge after completing their first clinical rotation, regardless of screen-saver exposure. This improvement was likely due to general exposure to appropriate safety practices as exhibited by housestaff and faculty. Despite the widespread use of screen savers, no evidence was provided that they are an effective method for teaching patient safety concepts to medical students. Further research is needed to determine whether they are effective for medical education in other situations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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