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Can J Anaesth. 2009 Jan;56(1):35-45. doi: 10.1007/s12630-008-9002-9. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Knowledge-based errors in anesthesia: a paired, controlled trial of learning and retention.

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1
Department of Anesthesia, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Room H3580, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. sgf@post.harvard.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Optimizing patient safety by improving the training of physicians is a major challenge of medical education. In this pilot study, we hypothesized that a brief lecture, targeted to rare but potentially dangerous situations, could improve anesthesia practitioners' knowledge levels with significant retention of learning at six months.

METHODS:

In this paired controlled trial, anesthesia residents and attending physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital took the same 14-question multiple choice examination three times: at baseline, immediately after a brief lecture, and six months later. The lecture covered material on seven "intervention" questions; the remaining seven were "control" questions. The authors measured immediate knowledge acquisition, defined as the change in percentage of correct answers on intervention questions between baseline and post-lecture, and measured learning retention as the difference between baseline and six months. Both measurements were corrected for change in performance on control questions.

RESULTS:

Fifty of the 89 subjects completed all three examinations. The post-lecture increase in percentage of questions answered correctly, adjusted for control, was 22.2% [95% confidence interval (CI) 16.0-28.4%; P < 0.01], while the adjusted increase at six months was 7.9% (95% CI 1.1-14.7%; P = 0.024).

CONCLUSION:

A brief lecture improved knowledge, and the subjects retained a significant amount of this learning at six months. Exposing residents or other practitioners to this type of inexpensive teaching intervention may help them to avoid preventable uncommon errors that are rooted in unfamiliarity with the situation or the equipment. The methods used for this study may also be applied to compare the effect of various other teaching modalities while, at the same time, preserving participant anonymity and making adjustments for ongoing learning.

PMID:
19247776
DOI:
10.1007/s12630-008-9002-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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