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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Designing for distractions: a human factors approach to decreasing interruptions at a centralised medication station.

Colligan L, Guerlain S, Steck SE, et al. BMJ quality & safety. 2012;21:939-47.

Interruptions during medication administration are a major contributor to medication errors in hospitals. However, interventions to minimize interruptions could have unintended consequences, since certain interruptions are necessary for clinical care. To minimize interruptions while preserving a patient-centered environment, this study used a human factors engineering approach to analyze the medication preparation process and redesign the physical location where the process took place. This approach resulted in significantly fewer interruptions and improved staff satisfaction with medication administration. This study provides an excellent example of how human factors principles can be used to improve the physical environment within a hospital to enhance patient safety.