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human factors in healthcare

How Healthcare Human Factors Contribute to Increased Patient Safety?

Human factors in healthcare research incorporate both what has been gained by experience in similar scenarios and the most recent scientific studies. The objective is to create workplaces that consider this understanding of human behaviour, capacities, and limits. It accepts the realities of human imperfection while also developing tools to assist companies in dealing with them more effectively.

Taking human aspects into account, businesses design workplaces that maximize process and system performance while simultaneously promoting workplace productivity, stability, and well-being. A case in point of the critical nature in healthcare comes from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, where an estimated 150 unnecessary fatalities occur each week.

Human factors research and practice are often grouped into three broad categories:

Analysis of Human Factors

Human factors analysis is concerned with ensuring that designers take human behaviour into account when building workplaces. The goal is not to force humans to adapt to a failing system. Rather than that, systems should adapt to the way humans interact with them.

When studying a system or process in the context of human factors, there are often three areas to focus on:

  • Workplace factors: examining concerns such as regular interruptions and disruptions, unclear or absent instructions, loud or unpleasant work environments, and a heavy workload.
  • Human factors: determining employee knowledge and skill levels, as well as which employees become restless, distracted, exhausted, or discouraged.
  • Organizational factors: they may include insufficient planning that results in high-pressure circumstances, a lack of safety measures, bad reaction to past events, and a communication gap between management and staff.
  • Engineering of Human Factors

Human factors engineering (HFE) is concerned with the unique tools, technologies, and systems utilized in a process. The objective is to develop tools, technologies, and techniques that consider both human capabilities and limits, and hence should be safe, comfortable, and effective for human use. This field, which is occasionally referred to as “usability engineering,” is concerned with user-centred design.

  • Ergonomics and Human Factors

Ergonomics examines all aspects of a job or process where a human mistake might affect the outcome. As defined by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, it draws on various sciences, including psychology, economics, engineering, biomechanical, structural engineering, physiology, anthropometric measures, user experience, and user interface design.

Aviation is a practical application of human factors ergonomics, a subject similar to healthcare in which human mistakes may result in catastrophic harm or death. Instruments are positioned in aeroplane cockpits so that they correspond to how humans see, think, and act, making the instrument cluster intuitive for the pilot.

Human Factors Applications in Health Care

Human factors specialists in health care work to enhance the interactions between people and systems for everyone involved — health care providers, patients, and family members. Their work may be devoted to boosting the safety and usefulness of a specific product – such as a medical gadget – or upgrading a whole care delivery process or organizational culture.

These professionals aim to comprehend the various aspects affecting the system’s performance — the physical environment; the tasks, tools, and technology involved; and the organizational settings under which work happens — and then develop systems to enhance patient safety and team performance.

These techniques can be used to do the following:

  • Endeavour to limit clinician mistakes.
  • Enhancement of clinician performance.
  • Enhance the provision of evidence-based medicine.
  • Increase the care’s patient- and family-centeredness.
  • Enhance communication between patients and providers.
  • Efficiencies and non-value-adding tasks should be reduced.
  • Lessen clinician fatigue and increase job satisfaction

These techniques are not extensively used, and further work is needed to incorporate human factors methodologies and tools into health care quality improvement efforts.

Human Factors and Patient Safety

All healthcare professionals must be aware of factors that raise the probability of human error in every setting. This is especially critical to keep in mind for medical students and other inexperienced younger employees. Numerous individual factors affect human performance, predisposing an individual to mistake. Fatigue and stress are the two most significant causes.

There is compelling scientific evidence relating weariness to performance decline, establishing it as a recognized risk factor for patient safety. Prolonged work has been proven to have the same effect on performance as someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 mmol/l, making driving a car unlawful in many countries.

Furthermore, research has established a link between stress levels and performance. While everyone can relate to high levels of stress, it is critical to note that low-stress levels are sometimes unproductive. They can result in boredom and an inability to focus on a job with the necessary attentiveness.

In essence, human factors lessons from other sectors apply to patient safety in all healthcare settings, including an awareness of the interaction and interconnections between humans and the equipment and technology they utilize. Understanding the inescapability of mistakes and the spectrum of human capacities and responses in any given scenario is critical for understanding how human factors standard specification might be used to enhance health care.

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