U competes in medical error contest

Naomi Scott

Students from across the country tried to solve hypothetical health-care problems at a competition at the University this weekend.

The first CLARION National Interprofessional Team Case Competition attracted students across different health disciplines from seven universities.

In the competition, student teams were given a medical error case and were asked to determine what went wrong.

Megan Garrity, a member of the University CLARION team and a fourth-year nursing student, said the University’s nursing program doesn’t give students many opportunities to work with other professions.

“It was so good to practice working as a team, because in the real world, you have to,” she said.

Competitors were given a case in which an unconscious 36-year-old woman was taken to the fictitious Arizona General Hospital. After a tumultuous three-week hospital stay, the woman was released, only to be readmitted a few weeks later. Competitors had to determine the problems in the health-care system the woman experienced and present ways they could have addressed them.

Garrity said she and her team spent more than one month tracking down professional contacts, which helped them gain insight about how to handle the problematic case. The team also spoke with administration personnel from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Garrity said preparing for the competition broke down stereotypes about various health-care professions as the team learned about the actual responsibilities of different health-care professions.

“We don’t know what our colleagues actually can do,” she said.

Judy Beniak, director of the University’s Health Careers Center said the competition is an “enriching student experience.”

“This is a way that our students get rehearsal for interprofessional practice to improve patient safety,” she said.

Karin Alaniz, CLARION adviser and senior teaching specialist in the Nursing School, said the competition is a way students can “appreciate the other languages” of the various health disciplines.

“We’re all on the same team,” she said. “We’re really raising the conscience that this is a team system – that you cannot isolate.”

The University of Missouri-Columbia won first place in the competition. The University of Minnesota and Dartmouth University tied for second place. All three teams will attend a national forum on quality improvement in health, sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

It is one of the main events offered by CLARION, an interdisciplinary health-professional student organization that works to educate students from different disciplines to work together to ensure patient safety.