Value of human factors to medication and patient safety in the intensive care unit

Department of Pediatrics, Critical Care, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA.
Critical care medicine (Impact Factor: 6.31). 06/2010; 38(6 Suppl):S90-6. DOI: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181dd8de2
Source: PubMed


Conventional wisdom suggests that the "human factor" in critical care environments is reason for inadequate medication and patient safety. "Human factors" (or human factors engineering) is also a scientific discipline and practice of improving human performance. Using decades of human factors research, this paper evaluates a range of common beliefs about patient safety through a human factors lens. This evaluation demonstrates that human factors provides a framework for understanding safety failures in critical care settings, offers insights into how to improve medication and patient safety, and reminds us that the "human factor" in critical care units is what allows these time-pressured, information-intense, mentally challenging, interruption-laden, and life-or-death environments to function so safely so much of the time.

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Available from: Matthew C. Scanlon
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    • "Recognized by healthcare workers, including physicians [7], errors had been reportedly frequent experienced, and the majority of staff regarded 79% of these events as preventable, with a substantial portion of them considered as related to human factors [7-9]. Interventions to reduce the impact of human failures in the healthcare practice had been vigorously studied [8-10], including Team Resources Management (TRM) and TeamSTEPPS [2,5,9,10]. These programs and tools derived from aviation safety and crew training experiences [11,12], and focused on a number of training components for knowledge, skills and attitude, such as leadership, situation awareness, mutual support and communication [9,13], and have been deemed promising in enhancing patient safety in the healthcare settings. "
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    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · BMC Surgery
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    • "The Ôhuman factorÕ is the critical factor in patient safety and workflow analysis with HFE considered the first step in work redesign ( Porter et al . 2010 , Scanlon & Karsh 2010 ) . This study is an important contribution to help close the knowledge gap regarding successful methods to evaluate the complex work and work environment of RNs and PNs in acute care . "
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    ABSTRACT: bragadóttir h., gunnarsdóttir s. & ingason h.t. (2012) Journal of Nursing Management The development and piloting of electronic standardized measures on nursing work: combining engineering and nursing knowledge Aims This paper describes the development and piloting of electronic standardized measures on nursing work (e-SMNW) for rich data gathering on the work and work environment of registered nurses (RNs) and practical nurses (PNs). Background Efficient and valid methods are needed to measure nursing work to enhance the optimal use of the nursing workforce for safe patient care. Methods The study combined human factors engineering (HFE) and nursing knowledge to develop electronic standardized measures for observational studies on nursing work in acute care. Results The work and work environment of RNs and PNs in acute care medical and surgical inpatient units was successfully measured using e-SMNW. With predetermined items of work activities and influencing factors in the work of nurses, and full use of computer technology, multi-layered rich standardized data were gathered, analysed and displayed. Conclusions The combination of nursing knowledge, HFE and computer technology enables observational data collection for a rich picture of the complex work of nursing. Implications for nursing management Information collected by standardized and multi-layered measures makes it easier to identify potential improvements, with regard to influencing factors and management of the work and work environment of nurses. Further use of computer technology in health services research is encouraged.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Journal of Nursing Management
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    Preview · Article · Feb 2011 · BMJ (online)
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