Background : Medical errors and patient safety are major concerns for the medical and medical education communities. Improving clinical supervision for residents is important in avoiding errors, yet little is known about how residents perceive the adequacy of their supervision and how this relates to medical errors and other education outcomes, such as learning and satisfaction.
Methods : We analyzed data from a 2009 survey of residents in 4 large specialties regarding the adequacy and quality of supervision they receive as well as associations with self-reported data on medical errors and residents' perceptions of their learning environment.
Results : Residents' reports of working without adequate supervision were lower than data from a 1999 survey for all 4 specialties, and residents were least likely to rate "lack of supervision" as a problem. While few residents reported that they received inadequate supervision, problems with supervision were negatively correlated with sufficient time for clinical activities, overall ratings of the residency experience, and attending physicians as a source of learning. Problems with supervision were positively correlated with resident reports that they had made a significant medical error, had been belittled or humiliated, or had observed others falsifying medical records.
Conclusions : Although working without supervision was not a pervasive problem in 2009, when it happened, it appeared to have negative consequences. The association between inadequate supervision and medical errors is of particular concern.
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