Patient safety is a major priority for health services. It is a multi-disciplinary problem and requires a multi-disciplinary solution; any education should therefore be a multi-disciplinary endeavour, from conception to implementation. The starting point should be at undergraduate level and medical education should not be an exception. It is apparent that current educational provision in patient safety lacks a systematic approach, is not linked to formal assessment and is detached from the reality of practice. If patient safety education is to be fit for purpose, it should link theory and the reality of practice; a human factors approach offers a framework to create this linkage. Learning outcomes should be competency based and generic content explicitly linked to specific patient safety content. Students should ultimately be able to demonstrate the impact of what they learn in improving their clinical performance. It is essential that the patient safety curriculum spans the entire undergraduate programme; we argue here for a spiral model incorporating innovative, multi-method assessment which examines knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. Students are increasingly learning from patient experiences, we advocate learning directly from patients wherever possible. Undergraduate provision should provide a platform for continuing education in patient safety, all of which should be subject to periodic evaluation with a particular emphasis on practice impact.