Few med students trained in adverse drug events

Only 16% of internal medicine clerkship programs include formal lectures about adverse drug events, according to a new study published in the Sept. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Study results indicate that medical students in the United States have little exposure to information on adverse drug events in the curriculum used during their internal medicine rotation.

The study, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), with additional funding from the Food and Drug Administration, also found that 35% percent of clerkship directors had little or no familiarity with the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical errors, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System." After reading a brief summary of the report, 83% of clerkship directors said that heightened surveillance and training should occur to help decrease adverse drug events.

Sixty-five percent of the clerkship directors said that they would incorporate one or two hours of educational materials on adverse drug events if slide shows or Internet-based educational modules were available. Only 41% of clerkship directors would welcome an outside speaker to lecture on the topic.

The study was carried out by AHRQ’s Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and was based on a survey of 79 U.S. internal medicine clerkship programs that was conducted in the spring of 2000. Internal medicine clerkship programs were chosen for the survey because medical students spend an average of 12 weeks on this rotation, more than any other required clinical experience during their medical training. The study did not assess the impact of the lack of information on adverse drug events on their training overall.