The role of simulation in patient safety

As per World Health Organisation (WHO), patient safety “is the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care and reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with health care to an acceptable minimum.” 


The advance of technology improved significantly patient safety over time, but the death rates are still too high: clinical errors are found among the ten leading causes of death.

The pursuit of safety in the healthcare system has brought innovation in the routine of a busy clinical setting: simulation has a vital role in achieving safety in healthcare.

“Primum non nocere”, Latin for “Above all, no harm”, is a fundamental of medical practice. Yet, as per a 2016 study conducted by John Hopkins, 250.000 patients die each year from medical errors, which include the administration of wrong medications, having the wrong surgery, receiving a wrong diagnosis, or acquiring infections at the hospital.

For example, intravenous access is a source of blood infections; therefore many hospitals have introduced an improved training programme that includes the use of training arms to practice on, to develop knowledge and clinical skills, and this has been adopted for many procedure-based skills.

Simulation-based training is well established in the healthcare sector, but the implementation of this technology is not consistent enough and not standardised.

Simulation builds trust and safety in a patient-based environment; new and future clinicians and healthcare practitioners can safely try new procedures, allowing for the overall betterment of their skills without putting patients at risk.

Most of the simulation devices involve the use of mannequins that may respond to the treatments, like flight simulators used for the training of pilots.

The use of simulation can be applied along with traditional teaching in most of the clinical domains available, from paediatry to surgery to emergency medicine, making sure that all the clinical staff can acquire and strengthen their skills, reduce the operational time, increase their confidence and the quality of care, without the risk of affecting their licences or incurring legal issues.

The effectiveness of simulation-based medical education is clear. Procedural simulation improves performance in clinical settings, and the use of simulation is crucial to make sure to remove the patient from the practitioner’s learning curve and to build a safer healthcare system.







  1. 1) WHO - Patient Safety. Accessed on 06/12/2020.
  2. 2) Rall M., Dieckmann P., Simulation, and patient safety: The use of simulation to enhance patient safety on a systems level, Current Anaesthesia & Critical Care. 2005;16 (5) 273-281.
  3. 3) Makary, M., Daniel M, Medical error – the third leading cause of death in the US. The BMJ, 2016; 353.
  4. 4) Leape LL. Error in medicine. JAMA1994; 272:1851-7.

Shop now

You can use this element to add a quote, content...