Latest issue of Briefings on Patient Safety available through Patient Safety Monitor

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

April 7, 2010

The April issue of Briefings on Patient Safety has been posted to the Patient Safety Monitor. This issue contains a story about human factors engineering. The following is an excerpt from that article:

When Barbara Wilson, PhD, RNC, begins any new patient safety project, she first examines the principles of human factors engineering (HFE).

Wilson, assistant professor at Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Center for Improving Health Outcomes in Children, Teens, & Families, says that to ensure her staff members' success, it is imperative to examine how current processes may fail.

Every time someone makes a mistake there are processes that failed before that for it to ever get to that place, says Wilson, who worked as a hospital administrator and manager at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. It's rarely just that one person wasn't vigilant. It's almost always a systems problem in the process.

HFE is defined by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society as the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and other methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Although other high-reliability industries such as aviation and nuclear power have utilized HFE principles for decades, healthcare only recently began looking to HFE when designing processes and systems.

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