Human factors in healthcare

Human factors in healthcare
1 March 2016 frances

Humans as the source of safety

Caring for people’s health is a complicated process, fraught with danger. The opportunities to make mistakes are many and the personal responsibility felt by healthcare workers is very high.

When things go wrong, the tendency in healthcare, as in all industries, is to invoke ‘human error’ and to look for someone to blame. But identifying humans as the source of error is to overlook the fact that, even though they are often stressed and overworked and dealing with complicated systems, humans still get things right far more often than they get things wrong.

The articles in this month’s issue of The Ergonomist demonstrate how human factors professionals seek to understand the everyday challenges that healthcare workers face, so that systems and processes help rather than hinder them in delivering safe, effective care.

Elliott Pata describes how a series of seemingly insignificant conditions in the operating theatre can lead to a devastating outcome for patients and outlines simple but effective solutions for guarding against Never Events.

Laura Pickup and Sarah Atkinson examine in detail the ways in which chaotic hospital environments complicate the blood taking process and highlight the resourcefulness of clinicians in dealing with these environments.

Simon Blake discusses Appreciative Inquiry, a positive process that recognises and replicates success rather than focusing on failure.

And Ken Catchpole reviews his research into the use of video in the operating theatre and the opportunities and challenges that recording surgery presents.

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