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MU's CLARION team delivers its award-winning presentation.

Students Earn Third Win for MU in National Patient Safety Competition

CLARION case contest challenges teams' analytical skills to improve health care outcomes

While patients Mary Backus and Jason Prescott died in different ways, Backus of a prescription drug overdose and Prescott in a motor vehicle accident, both deaths were linked to controlled substances prescribed by the same physician. How could a health system have prevented these tragedies? This is the question that a winning team of University of Missouri health professions students answered at the CLARION National Interprofessional Team Case Competition in April.

Four MU students acted as a health care consulting team – Ashley Millham, a fourth-year medical student; David Clark; a graduate student in the medical school's health management and informatics department; Caitlin Alexander, a graduate student in public health; and Jeffrey Trammell, a student in the Sinclair School of Nursing. They brought home first place and a $7,500 team scholarship in the competition that included 10 other universities from across the nation.

Each team was given the same patient case, instructed to create a presentation analyzing the case and asked to give quality improvement recommendations using a multidisciplinary approach. Teams then presented their findings to a panel of judges, who evaluated each presentation in the context of real-world standards of practice.

Millham, the medical student, said while the competition required teams to be composed of members from at least two different health professions, the MU team benefitted from having all four members with different areas of expertise.

"We analyzed the case individually and then together. Judges were really looking for that kind of teamwork," Millham said. "This competition reiterates what we learn as part of the medical school curriculum – that it's important to work with our colleagues from different fields to effectively tackle a problem by pooling multiple areas of expertise."

A 10-year study on the curriculum, published in the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, showed that MU medical students significantly outscore a majority of their peers on licensing exams and residency director reviews. Other interprofessional training now involves the medical school's Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, which houses advanced patient mannequins, live patient actors and simulated clinical facilities.

Concerns regarding the quality of care and patient safety in health care were raised following an Institute of Medicine report in 1999. According to the report, as many as 98,000 Americans might die each year due to medical errors. With a lack of communication cited as one possible cause of the errors, interprofessional education has emerged at the forefront of health care curricula nationwide.

Kalyan Pasupathy, PhD, assistant professor in the medical school's department of health management and informatics, Amanda Allmon, MD, professor of family and community medicine, Myra Aud, PhD, associate professor of nursing, and Kristofer Hagglund, PhD, associate dean of the school of health professions, served as primary advisers for the MU team. Other advisers included educators from elsewhere in the MU Health System and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy.

Pasupathy said MU students are developing a track record for CLARION Competition success, with this recent victory marking MU's third win in seven years of competition.

"Our team gathered evidence by conducting an extensive research of the literature, and analyzed the case from a systemic perspective to spot that the problems were not just medically focused. They realized there were also organizational, public health and informational aspects to it," Pasupathy said. "They really weaved together a story addressing all the issues."

Allmon said future patients will benefit from students' participation in the competition.

"These students are going to enter the workplace, and they'll be able to share what they've learned and enhance communication with their colleagues," Allmon said. "This competition helps create and support a cultural change in health care, holding providers more accountable for patient outcomes."

The CLARION National Interprofessional Case Competition is an extension of the University of Minnesota's regional case competition designed for health care professional students. The local case competitions expanded to the national interprofessional team case competition in 2005. The teams that competed in 2011 included: University of Minnesota; University of Missouri; Dartmouth College; University of Kansas School of Medicine; Case Western Reserve University; University of Tennessee; University of Kentucky; University of Pittsburgh; Medical University of South Carolina; Creighton University; and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

The word clarion means a call to action – a clear and compelling directive to take action for a cause.

MU Health Magazine


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