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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Driven to distraction: a prospective controlled study of a simulated ward round experience to improve patient safety teaching for medical students.

Thomas I, Nicol L, Regan L, et al. BMJ quality & safety. 2015;24:154-61.

Interruptions are common in the clinical environment and pose a significant safety hazard for health care providers performing complex tasks. This educational intervention used a simulation of ward rounds for final year medical students. Investigators examined rates of errors following interruptions or distractions. One group received targeted feedback on managing distractions while the control students received no feedback. Although simulation reduced the number of errors following interruptions and distractions, feedback conferred an additional decrease in errors as well. This work demonstrates that medical students are not adequately trained to manage common distractions and interruptions. Simulation with targeted feedback is an effective strategy for medical students to safely manage distractions and interruptions. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary reflects on the relationship between interruptions and errors.