Ideas for a hazard course

Sep 12, 2011

I'm building a course for the nurses and doctors in our hospital. The purpose is to train them to identify and manage hazards with medical equipment.

The thing is that if the nurses and doctors do what they always have been doing, under the same surcomstances - probably nothing hapens. But I want them to react when something new comes along. A few examples:

  • A very heavy patient (The risk could be that the bed can't handle the weight)
  • They need to borrow an infusion pump from another department. (The risk is that although the make and model can be the same, the default settings can be different)
  • The department has to move to another area of the hospital (The risk could be that they don't have emergency electrical power in the new place)

I think that ability to identify the hazard relates a lot to if they have been exposed to, or heard of a similar situation before? How did it went? Can any conclutions be driven from that to adopt to this new situation?

I am out of ideas how to design the course. All your ideas are very welcome!

7 Replies
Brendan Strong

I'd +1 - scenarios sound like a great way to develop what you are talking about. You could work with an SME perhaps to develop a "story" (e.g. depending on your audience, could weather knock out electricity and cause an influx of patients and also raise the other issues you mention?)

Alterrnatively - and this is simply another suggestion to throw more ideas into the "pot", you could categorise the issues you want to cover, then deal with each issue within a category - e.g. "Patient Issues" (weight, substance dependence/abuse, violent, etc.), "Equipment Issues" (question of settings, delivery methods, etc.), and so forth. Within each category, you could deal with a set of issues. Again, I would talk with an SME on this one to help you determine the best categories to use, and which issues might sit in each category. One benefit of this approach is that it could be more easily updated than a scenario - but it could also act as a quick job aid/refresher for learners.

Another alternative - and this will depend on your particular circumstance (are you working in a general setting, or for  a specific hospital, and would practices be standardised), you could develop the content as a "Paitent Flow" - that is to describe the various interactions and steps a patient takes as they move through a hospital (if they come into Accident and Emergency or come in for surgery, or come in for some other reason), then at each "station" the patient passes through, you could deal with the specific hazards that arise. This could be beneficial if nurses and/or doctors work in specific disciplines alone (I understand this is not how it works everywhere- but in some places, an OR nurse is an OR nurse alone - she doesn't go into the A&E dept.). That said, the content could then also be developed as a "suite" with different sections for each specific dept. could help to tailor the content to the audience. 

Anyway, I hope this has given you some ideas.

Best of luck with it!

Erik Jaros

Thomas, I like the situational approach. It gives learners a chance to work through difficult/dangerous situations in a safe setting.

Do you have a risk assessment model you are asking learners to apply in your situations? It's always helpful to quantify/list the steps that should be taken before turning learners loose in simulations.

I'm thinking it would be helpful to run through one scenario where you show how your model helps to identify the hazards. Then let the learners try it for themselves in three or four simulations.Make the consequences for failure and/or success realistic for the best results. ex. "Your patient was given the wrong dosage. Luckily, another Nurse caught the error and the patient recovered."  or "Thanks to your deft assessment of the situation, your patient received the correct dosage from the pump."

Also, make at least one of the situations more subtle. Not every risk has a red flag attached to it.

We all rely on routines to get us through our workdays. Show learners how those routines can become dangerous if they don't apply critical thinking to hazardous situations.

Pedro Tamayo


We teach a on-line course about Patient safety, for nurses and doctors, using videos and some materials made with Articulate, and we have found that cases and scenarios are the most useful tools to teach & learn (there is some Articulate Engage files from our course in this Elearning community).

From my experience, students value very much when they have to evaluate cases and situations from the real world, the same situations they have to confront everyday. Scenarios can be very interesting for learning new behaviors, confront them to the real world so they have to make choices. From their responses you can show them new forms to identify and manage risks, changes in the way they communicate, etc.

Hope to be useful for you,


Doreen Rambke-Hartz

I'm currently creating a similar course for managers who supervise hospital workers.  Here's some of the ideas I'm considering for my course.  Steal away!

  • Pull statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the injury rates for all injuries, then show the rates for the health care industry (it's high).  You can then show the rates your your own organization. Pull stats on your organizations work comp claims costs Helps set the tone for why people need to prevent workplace injuries.
  • Employee stories (video or audio) - provide compelling, personal point of the impact of injuries
  • For raw facts that you have about hazards (ie: 1 in 9 nurses leave the profession due to a workplace injury), turn it into a self assessment quiz.  For example, 1 in ____ leave the profession....
  • Anything that is a "you should remember to do the following... For example: to recognize hazards:  put all needles in the sharps container before leaving the exam room...., turn the first part into a magazine style self assessment.  "I put needles in the sharps container before leaving the exam room. (sometimes=1 point, always = 2 points, never=0 points).
  • We follow the Thomas Krause model, "The Working Interface" for our safety practices.  He has hazards clustered into 4 categories:  equipment, facility, procedures or worker.  You could present a scenario  and ask what type of problem occurred. for example:  Nurse Sally entered the exam room to set it up for the next patient and noticed there was no red hazardous disposal receptacle in the room.  What type of hazard is this.
  • I'm building an exercise that shows photos of workers and learners will have to identify if the employee is exhibiting safe work behavior or putting themselves at-risk for an injury.  For example, one shows a nurse using improper patient lifting techniques, which puts her at risk for a strain.  They'll be asked to first identify is it safe or at risk behavior, then practice using a short communication model to talk with employee.  It could also apply to individual workers talking with co-workers.
  • Ask people from the same department or clinic to draw a simple map of their department and identify the potential hazards and what they can do to make it a safer environment. 

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