Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Where errors can be fatal, lab works out the kinks

Improving the ergonomics of patient care ...

"It's an order-of-magnitude difference that is extremely dangerous to the patient," Anjum Chagpar, manager of the Healthcare Human Factors Group at Toronto's University Health Network, says as she watches the nurse making the potentially fatal dosage error.

Fortunately there is a happy ending to the story - and one that demonstrates a new trend in how medical equipment is designed, tested and evaluated by health care researchers working with manufacturers.

Ms. Chagpar's group, housed in a new $6-million facility, began operating less than three years ago and has quickly become what is believed to be the world's largest hospital-based human-factors research centre.

(Human factors analysis, also called ergonomics or usability testing, is the term describing the linkage between a technology and its ease of operation.)

The UHN is an umbrella institution comprised of three hospitals -Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret. Its Human Factors Group made the video of the nurses when the UHN was considering buying new versions of pain-pump machines. A copy of the video showing the resulting confusion was sent to the machines' manufacturers, including Smiths Medical in Minnesota, a division of London, England-based Smiths Group PLC.

"They saw the video and quite honestly they were mortified," recalls Joseph Cafazzo, the UHN's director of medical device informatics and health-care human factors team.

Smiths' mortification led to an extensive two-year collaboration between the company and the UHN centre to develop a user-friendly "smart" pump-infusion system."    (Continued via globeandmail.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Monitoring Emergency Room - Ergonomics

Monitoring Emergency Room

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