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By Eva Doherty, Director of Human Factors in Patient Safety, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). Thursday. Sep 12, 2019

Training doctors and healthcare professionals in human factors in patient safety.


RCSI is the national surgical training centre (NSTC) in Ireland with responsibility for training all surgeons and emergency medicine doctors.


Trainees are required to attend the centre for mandatory human factors in patient safety training for two to three days each year for up to eight years of their postgraduate training. In addition, we run courses for Non-Consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) and we have innovated an inter-professional two year part-time masters degree in human factors in patient safety.


We are different from many other patient safety courses in that we include communication skills training in all our programmes in addition to training on safety, quality improvement and leadership.


We assess trainees’ communication skills over the first two years of training and these assessments contribute to the trainees’ progression to specialist training programmes.


There is a strong emphasis on leadership, professionalism, teamwork and safety management systems and we have a well-equipped high- fidelity simulation centre which we use to deliver this training.


The faculty team are multi-professional and consist of psychologists, nurses and a number of medical specialities including surgery, emergency medicine, anesthesiology and radiology.


Since 2017, we have collaborated with the national health service in Ireland (Health Services Executive, HSE) to co-design and deliver a national health care communication programme.


The aim of this programme is to equip all healthcare professionals with the communication skills to enable them to enhance the patient experience and promote safer care.


The International Association for Communication in Healthcare ( has collaborated with us on this project and is also collaborating with other countries such as Denmark, Austria and Australia to develop similar national programmes.


Eva Doherty, Director of Human Factors in Patient Safety, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).