The healthcare industry is gradually recognising the benefit of human factors engineering when introducing safety systems. Traditionally there has been a reliance on solutions that increase staff members accountability (policies, protocols, guidelines).

The overwhelming majority of healthcare staff are extremely conscientious and hard working, however they will still make mistakes.

‘It is human to err.’

We must aim to ensure that when these inevitable errors occur they do not lead to patient harm. Below is a selection of useful resources reviewing how human factors can improve safety in health care:

A mother, Leilani Schweitzer, talks about the death of her 20month old son related to medical error and 100,000 other reasons to introduce human factors into healthcare.

The Hierarchy of Intervention Effectiveness – This diagram neatly shows the effectiveness of different types of intervention.

‘Never events’ or ‘Always Conditions’ – great post from Steven Shorrock explaining how use of the term ‘never events’ may actually be detrimental to safety improvement.

Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed – a fantastic must read book.

Team of Teams – General Stanley McChrystal et al. An excellent book discussing how we need to move on from command structures of management if patient safety is to improve in our complex health care environments.

What is human factors engineering? – series of slides discussing human factors

The Problem With Root Cause Analysis – BJA Quality and Safety

Improving the Safety of Patients in England – The Berwick Report

Adaptive Learning – Prof Ron Heifetz – a must for anyone attempting to drive change.

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie – despite it’s title and it’s age this book provides great insight into how leaders might choose to conduct themselves.

From Discovery to Design – The Evolution of Human Factors In Healthcare

Errors in Medicine: A Human Factors Perspective – Gaylene Heard – Excellent article, a must read.

Human Factors – A How To Guide (NHS UK)

Clinical Excellence Commission (Human Factors Page) – Web link to valuable resources from CEC, including PDFs of presentations given by Terry Fairbanks.

Medical Human Factors – Videos

Just Culture by Sydney Dekker – Looks at how to balance safety and accountability.

Hinds: Crack the Chest. Get Crucified – Video illustrating what often happens in healthcare when you try to implement change.

Clinical Human Factors Website

Facing up to Command & Controlisms: 20 warning signs

Let’s Talk – Team Briefings

Guidance on applying human factors to medical devices

Safety Differently – Brilliant video from Sidney Dekker describing how if we want safety to improve we need to do it differently.

Great post discussing how ‘Key Performance Indicators‘ are detrimental to patient care

Why do we resist new thinking about safety and systems?