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Med Teach. 2014 Jun;36(6):505-10. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.891008. Epub 2014 Mar 5.

German undergraduate medical students' attitudes and needs regarding medical errors and patient safety--a national survey in Germany.

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Ludwig-Maximilians-University , Germany and.



Errors in medicine and patient safety are topics with growing scientific and public attention. In undergraduate medical education, these issues are little investigated so far. The aim of this study was to collect data regarding attitudes and needs of medical students.


In a sample of 269 German medical students, data were collected using an anonymous online questionnaire. It consisted of three parts: (1) international validated questionnaire, (2) questions about the German medical education system and (3) demographic data. Data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively.


One-hundred sixty-seven data sets were analysed (completion rate 62%). Twenty-five percent of the respondents stated that they already had committed a medical error. Almost half of the participants reported that they had been assigned tasks they had not been qualified for (47%), or where medical errors could have happened easily (50%). Final year students showed less confidence in error disclosure compared to younger students (pā€‰<ā€‰0.001). The majority of respondents (64%) wished for more education on the issues.


With regard to future curricular developments, a consideration of attitudes and needs of medical students regarding the topics of medical errors and patient safety seems necessary. A goal-directed undergraduate education can promote an open culture and can lead to safety and satisfaction for both patients and medical professionals.

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