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Human factors engineering or ergonomics (HFE) is a scientific discipline broadly focused on interactions among humans and other elements of a system.
Dr. Pascale Carayon, PhD, is a professor emerita in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the founding director of the Wisconsin Institute for Healthcare Systems Engineering (WIHSE). Dr. Nicole Werner, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Health and Wellness Design at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington. We spoke with both of them about the role of human factors engineering has in improving healthcare delivery and its role in patient safety.
Appropriate follow-up of incidental abnormal radiological findings is an ongoing patient safety challenge. Inadequate follow-up can contribute to missed or delayed diagnosis, potentially resulting in poorer patient outcomes. This study describes implementation of an electronic health record-based referral system for patients with incidental radiologic finding in the emergency room.
A 47-year-old man underwent a navigational bronchoscopy with transbronchial biospy under general anesthesia without complications. The patient was transferred to the post-acute care unit (PACU) for observation and a routine post-procedure chest x-ray (CXR). After the CXR was taken, the attending physician spoke to the patient and discussed his impressions, although he had not yet seen the CXR. He left the PACU without communicating with the bedside nurse, who was caring for other patients. The patient informed the nurse that the attending physician had no concerns.
This case describes a 20-year-old woman was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and occlusive thrombus in the right brachial vein surrounding a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line (type, gauge, and length of time the PICC had been in place were not noted). The patient was discharged home but was not given any supplies for cleaning the PICC line, education regarding the signs of PICC line infection, or referral to home health services.
A 2-year-old girl presented to her pediatrician with a cough, runny nose, low grade fever and fatigue; a nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza was negative and lung sounds were clear. The patient developed a fever and labored breathing and was taken to the Emergency Department (ED) before being admitted to the hospital. She developed respiratory distress and clinically worsened over time until she developed respiratory failure requiring air transportation to the pediatric intensive care unit at a children’s hospital.
Arora V, Farnan J. UpToDate. June 15, 2022.
This WebM&M describes two incidences of the incorrect patient being transported from the Emergency Department (ED) to other parts of the hospital for tests or procedures. In one case, the wrong patient was identified before undergoing an unnecessary procedure; in the second case, the wrong patient received an unnecessary chest x-ray. The commentary highlights the consequences of patient transport errors and strategies to enhance the safety of patient transport and prevent transport-related errors.
Lane S, Gross M, Arzola C, et al. Can J Anaesth. Epub 2022 Mar 22.