Mock trial as a learning tool in a family medicine residency

Robert P. Lennon, Karl T. Clebak, Jonathan B. Stepanian, Timothy D. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Mock trials have been used to teach medical learners about malpractice litigation, ethics, legal concepts, and ev-idence-based practice. Although 5.2% of family physicians are sued for malpractice annually, there is no formal requirement nor curriculum for educating our residents about malpractice, and mock trial has not been reported as an education modality in a family medicine residency. We developed a mock trial experience to educate family medicine residents about malpractice litigation and evaluated the resident experience over 3 years. METHODS: This is a retrospective, single-site study evaluating resident experience in our mock trials. We assessed perceived value using a 5-point Likert scale; and we assessed knowledge with free-text answers to both open and closed questions. We used descriptive statistics to describe data. RESULTS: Residents found the mock trial effective and engaging, giving the experience an overall evaluation of 4.9/5±0.3; 86.4% identified the importance of documentation as a learning outcome; 72.7% of residents identified negligence as necessary to justify a lawsuit, but they demonstrated limited mastery of the four elements of negligence, with 45.5% correctly listing harm, 40.9% causation, 13.6% breach of duty, and 0% duty owed. CONCLUSIONS: Mock trial is an enjoyable and effective tool to engage residents and provide a general understanding of malpractice litigation. It is less effective in conveying nuanced details of negligence. It may also be effective in teaching practice management techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-744
Number of pages4
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice


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