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Preventing Medical Errors & Improving Patient Safety

Leo Christie, PhD

CE Credit: 2 Hours

Target Audience: Occupational Therapy CEUs

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Course Abstract

Preventing Medical Errors & Improving Patient Safety is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that illustrates the kinds of errors that occur in healthcare practice and offers strategies to help clinicians increase their effectiveness, thereby reducing the potential for making “medical” errors. This course satisfies the requirements of the Florida State Legislature mandating a two-hour course relating to the prevention of medical errors as part of the licensure and renewal process for health professionals and meets the medical error renewal requirement for Florida Occupational Therapists (OTs).

The author notes the overlap between the prevention of medical errors, laws & rules, and ethics, explaining that having a thorough understanding of, and adhering to, one’s legal and ethical responsibilities, goes a long way to minimizing errors. This is followed by an overview of medical errors and their causes. A glossary of terms is provided.

We look at the two different ways of viewing and managing human error (the Person Approach and the System Approach), and reflect on the descriptions and examples of medical errors as provided. Case studies are used to highlight the types of practice errors that occur in practice and their very real consequences for clients. The author details the importance of the assessment process before planning treatment; the difficulties in diagnosing patients; and the necessity of critical thinking when assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients. Criteria for differentiating scientific from pseudoscientific treatment claims are provided.

We explore the possible causes of communication failures and how they affect patient outcomes. This includes discussions on raising the health literacy, the effects of health consumerism, and the importance of cultural competence when interacting with patients.

The author focuses on root cause analysis, error reduction & prevention, and patient safety. Printable handouts with tips and strategies for error prevention, and online resources are included.


A Closer Look at Medical Errors
Communication Failures
Error Reduction and Prevention
Medical Errors: Communication, Planning, and Execution
Summary and Conclusions

Course #21-59 | 2024 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1. Distinguish between human error and system failure
2. Categorize five examples of medical errors as resulting from inadequate assessment, poor planning, or communication failure
3. Compare the three types of communication failures that can lead to medical errors
4. Demonstrate the root cause analysis process of identifying and analyzing errors to prevent reoccurrence
5. Differentiate between the ten criteria for distinguishing scientific from pseudoscientific treatment claims
6. Illustrate ten strategies healthcare professionals can use to prevent medical errors

AOTA Approved Provider

Professional Development Resources is an AOTA Approved Provider of professional development. Course approval ID#9227. This distance learning-independent course is offered at 0.2 CEUs, introductory level, OT service delivery/professional issues. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners; the Florida Board of Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635) (all courses are reported within two business days of completion). Participant successfully completed the required assessment component for this activity.


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author(s)

Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is a past CEO of Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years' experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.

: Receives a salary from Professional Development Resources, Inc.

: No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist.