Wrong Sided Never Events: Can individuals be trained to improve their ability to discriminate right from left?

Carl Brennan, Gerard Gormley, Martin Dempster, Karola Dillenburger, Mickey Keenan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Have you ever taken a wrong turn, requested imaging of the wrong side or operated on the wrong side? Maybe you know of someone who has. In our personal and professional lives left-right (LR) decisions are made daily but to varying degrees of success.1 In healthcare LR errors can have disastrous consequences and one underlying factor in LR errors is human error.2 Can anything be done to improve an individual’s LR discrimination ability?

Precision Teaching (PT) is a teaching method developed by the discipline of Applied Behaviour Analysis that is used successfully in education and for special needs children.3 PT using flashcards, termed ‘Say All Fast, Minute Each Day, Shuffled’ (SAFMEDS), aims to improve fluency (accuracy and speed) of a skill.3

The aim of this study is to analyse the impact of SAFMEDS on individuals’ LR discrimination ability. This will involve implementing LR flashcards as the intervention.
Fourth year medical students will be invited to participate, aiming to recruit 50 participants for the control and intervention groups. The control group’s baseline LR discrimination ability will be quantified using the ‘Bergen Left Right Discrimination Test’ (BLRDT), a LR psychometric test. The intervention group’s LR discrimination ability will be quantified using the BLRDT. They will use SAFMEDS with LR flashcards for 5 days. The BLRDT will be repeated after 5 days of intervention.
Participants in the intervention arm will be invited to participate in a focus group with the aim to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences using LR flashcards.

Data collection started in September 2017 and is ongoing. 39 participants entered the intervention group with 11 participating in 2 focus groups. Three further recruitments are planned in October/November. Data analysis will be conducted using a between-groups Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) and thematically using the ‘template analysis’ approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2017
EventNorthern Ireland Simulation and Human Factors Network: “Theory into Practice: Using simulation and human factors training to improve patient safety” - Riddel Hall, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Oct 201720 Oct 2017


ConferenceNorthern Ireland Simulation and Human Factors Network
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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