Integrating Patient Safety into Curriculum: The Purdue University Doctor of Nursing Practice

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Lionheart Publishing Inc.

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Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare

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The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century (2001) and To Err Is Human (2000) were tipping points in patient safety. The public reaction to these reports was significant. People paid attention. The report energized patient safety research and applications, prompting much needed research and evidence-based practice. It is difficult to find a patient safety article that does not reference at least one of these landmark reports.

These early IOM reports were a catalyst for the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Purdue University. Subsequent healthcare summits at Purdue University and elsewhere have resulted in common themes, including consumer-driven healthcare, basic universal healthcare for all, interoperability of electronic health records, interprofessional education to promote collaboration, and new models of care for nurse-managed clinic systems.

The academic patient safety call to arms occurred in 2003, when the Institute of Medicine published Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality. The education report has not enjoyed the media exposure of the earlier two reports, partially because talking about education is not as sensational as lost lives. But we who know that the root cause to any issue is complex and convoluted must not lose momentum in solving fundamental education-related patient safety issues. Education, as a root cause of patient safety issues, is losing lives once removed.

During a root cause analysis, it is always tempting to “re-educate” staff on whatever the identified gap was in the system (Ebright and Rapala, 2003). Without underlying competencies, it is difficult to understand, let alone redesign, patient care processes. Although many healthcare providers have provided patient safety education to staff members, and courses are available within some universities, the core competencies must be woven into curriculum.

The Purdue University School of Nursing has answered the IOM call for fundamental education redesign. This article will explore the Purdue Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum as an example of successfully integrating patient safety with a plan of study.


Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, March-April 2007. Publisher link.