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Human factors to improve patient safety

Purchase, Thomas ORCID:, Bowie, Paul, Hibbert, Peter, Krishnan, Rajesh G. and Carson-Stevens, Andrew ORCID: 2023. Human factors to improve patient safety. Patient Safety, Cham, Switzerland: Springer, pp. 45-60. (10.1007/978-3-031-35933-0_4)

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Since the 1940s, the scientific discipline of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) has evolved and become successfully embedded into a wide range of so-called safety-critical industries, such as nuclear, maritime and military operations. In this regard, the healthcare industry is lagging behind. The application of HFE ensures that systems, products, and services are designed to make them easier, safer and more effective for people to use via a human-centred approach. When designing any system to be safe and sustainable there are three fundamental HFE principles to follow, namely that it must always have a systems approach, be design-driven and focus on jointly optimising human wellbeing and system performance. The primary aims of HFE in healthcare are to support healthcare professionals with the cognitive, physical, socio-cultural and organisational aspects of their work and to promote safe, high-quality care for patients. The integration of HFE principles into healthcare organisations is strongly recommended by the World Health Organization as part of a fundamental strategy to tackle avoidable harm in healthcare. The chapter builds on our understanding of HFE in healthcare, dispels the myths currently limiting its use and describes how a structured HFE approach to thinking about a clinical problem can help to identify where and how the system can be optimised in order to improve future outcomes for patients and staff. Multiple tools and methods used to apply a HFE approach are discussed, including exploring the non-linear nature of a complex adaptive system through the Functional Resonance Analysis Method to visualise ‘work-as-done’ versus ‘work-as-imagined’. The human factors framework Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) is highlighted as a multi-factorial tool which can be customised for anyone familiar or unfamiliar with HFE approaches and adds value to a wide range of clinical and research activities, such as incident reporting, hazard analysis and care system design. Safe healthcare design and delivery requires a more rigorous and science-based HFE contribution and a need to unlearn historical practices to achieve more sustainable and long-term change.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 978-3-031-35932-3
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2023 13:30

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