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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Forcing Function

An aspect of a design that prevents a target action from being performed or allows its performance only if another specific action is performed first. For example, automobiles are now designed so that the driver cannot shift into reverse without first putting her foot on the brake pedal. Forcing functions need not involve device design. For instance, one of the first forcing functions identified in health care is the removal of concentrated potassium from general hospital wards. This action is intended to prevent the inadvertent preparation of intravenous solutions with concentrated potassium, an error that has produced small but consistent numbers of deaths for many years.