The Patient Safety for Nursing Students project

Adverse events in healthcare represent a major source of morbidity and mortality globally. It is estimated that internationally patients experience approximately 16.8 million adverse events each year (Jha et al, 2018). This makes healthcare errors the third leading cause of death in developed countries (Makary & Daniel, 2016). However, these statistics fail to depict the real impact and the distress and disability caused to patients and their families when ‘things go wrong’ in healthcare. It was against this background that the Patient Safety for Nursing Students Website was conceived. It is our belief that targeted patient safety education for undergraduate nursing students has the potential to make a significant and ongoing impact on clinical practice and patient outcomes.

The Patient Safety Competency Framework (2017) which provides the structure for the Patient Safety for Nursing Students Website was an outcome of a Delphi study undertaken as one component of an Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching project. The aim of that study was to seek consensus on the key patient safety competency statements, knowledge and skill sets relevant to undergraduate nursing programs and essential to patient safety. An expert panel consisting of 32 academics representing nursing programs and nine content experts from across Australia participated in the three round modified online Delphi study undertaken in 2016-2017.

The Patient Safety Competency Framework constitutes a blueprint for performance. Knowledge statements are conceptualised as the foundation for competence and skill statements represent expected clinical behaviours. To practice safely nursing students must have a requisite level of knowledge and must know how to apply their knowledge using technical and non-technical skills in both simulated and real-life clinical settings.

The Patient Safety Competency Framework addresses nine key issues known to directly impact safe patient care. These include:

  1. Person-centred care
  2. Therapeutic communication
  3. Cultural competence
  4. Teamwork and collaborative practice
  5. Clinical reasoning
  6. Evidenced-based practice
  7. Preventing, minimising and responding to adverse events
  8. Infection prevention and control
  9. Medication safety