MEDICINE 700 : Designing Safer Systems

Medical and Health Sciences

2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The application of improvement science and safety science methods to achieve better outcomes for patients by reducing harm, waste and variation in health care; includes a focus on measurement for improvement and the application of human factors theory and concepts to design a safer and more reliable health care system.

Course Overview

The field of Quality and Safety in healthcare is now a dynamic and interdisciplinary one and this course will allow you to learn about how to detect and remove hazards in health care systems, better understand the factors that lead to clinical errors and system failures, and introduce initiatives that reduce patient harm, increase health care quality and control costs. 

The course format provides face-to-face discussion during teaching days, enabling exploration of some of the on-going debates and practical applications of course material to the real world. The course also involves guest lectures from a number of experts in fields related to the course material. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: NURSING 775 or POPLHLTH 724

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Apply an understanding of human psychology to the analysis of error causation (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 3.2 and 5.1)
  2. Assess the differential abilities of humans and machines to maintain the safe operation of complex systems (Capability 1.2, 2.1, 3.2, 4.2, 5.1 and 6.2)
  3. Compare the contribution of human factors and system factors to failures in healthcare provision (Capability 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 6.2)
  4. Apply safety science to identify and investigate causes of harm, waste and variation in healthcare (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 6.2)
  5. Apply human factors approaches in the design and development of safer systems of care (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.2, 5.3 and 6.2)
  6. Develop appropriate measures to determine whether quality and safety have improved due to safety initiatives (Capability 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1 and 6.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 35% Individual Coursework
Assignments 45% Individual Coursework
Reflection 20% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Assignments are expected to be delivered by the prescribed due date. If you are unable to submit a piece of work on time due to extenuating circumstances, please contact the course administrator or co-ordinator before the due date. If extenuating circumstances are deemed to apply, you may be given up to two weeks beyond the prescribed due date within which to complete the assignment without incurring a penalty.
Where no extension has been requested, or no extension has been approved, assignments will normally incur a penalty of 2% reduction in mark per working day.

Learning Resources

An electronic reading list, full access to the University library and other learning resources are provided.

Course Contacts

Assoc. Prof. Craig Webster, Email:

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

You can expect 28 hours of lectures/workshop teaching, approx. 60 hours of reading and thinking about the content and approx. 60 hours of work on assignments.

Other Information

Course facilitators are available to guide students throughout the duration of this course and are happy to discuss elements or provide feedback at any point. In addition, online discussion forums aim to progress learning further. 

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.