Nursing Classes Get a Second Look by Error Experts

The most recent issue of Health Affairs, a medical journal, cites six universities at which research teams confirmed a long-standing problem in healthcare facilities: Preventable errors by nurses and other medical staff can and do cause unnecessary patient deaths. According to their findings, errors are a leading cause of death in the United States – beating Aids, cancer, and traffic accidents. This has led to an important conversation among health experts and educators about the importance of team training in nursing schools.

“Interprofessional teamwork is crucial to developing more cost effective, patient-centered health care systems in the U.S. and around the world. If we expect physicians, nurses and pharmacists to implement new ways of working, we need to find innovative ways for students who’ll be entering these professions to train together,” said Maureen Bisognano, IHI president and CEO and an Institute of Medicine member. (Read more:

According to “Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses”, nursing students and professionals are integral in solving the problem. The handbook discusses, in part, evidence indicating that “nurses are in a key position to improve the quality of health care through patient safety interventions and strategies.”

The research presented by the university study calls for further training in nursing schools and all medical professions, indicating cross-specialty training so that all people involved in patient care learn to work together in preventing mistakes. The idea is slow to catch on, since less than half of programs include classes that focus on this type of training.  According to “Most medical schools train students in quality improvement and patient safety, but most are not doing it with students from other professions. A review of medical schools showed that while 62 percent of them teach quality and safety, only 41 percent provide interprofessional education.”

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