Web site spotlight: Consider human factors engineering when designing your patient safety projects

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 23, 2010

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's 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."

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