Design for safety – Ann Blandford profiles the CHI+MED project for "Science & Technology"

CHI+MED draws together many research strands and expertise from different groups of people with the aim of increasing patient safety by looking at how the design and use of interactive medical devices (such as chemotherapy pumps) can be improved. 

“The CHI+MED team is multidisciplinary, involving human factors specialists, cognitive scientists, computer scientists and clinicians. We bring complementary expertise to the challenge of designing safer interactive medical devices.”

It’s a large project running for six years across four universities (three in London: City, Queen Mary University of London and UCL, and Swansea) and two hospitals (Royal Free in London and the Singleton in Swansea).

In this article Prof Ann Blandford, CHI+MED’s Principal Investigator (based at UCL) puts the project and the research underpinning it in context.

That “human error is pervasive” is something we want everyone to understand. No amount of skill or training can ever remove someone’s ability or opportunity to make mistakes, it’s just not possible. Often mistakes aren’t even noticed by someone so one of the goals of the CHI+MED project is to find ways of making potential errors more visible to the user, with relevant cues to help them.

CHI+MED researchers are studying the way users interact with medical devices under laboratory conditions in order to learn more about the array of mistakes that can be made when entering numbers into the device (to tell it how much drug to deliver, and how quickly). We’re also looking at device use in the real world (‘situated use’) to see what errors are made in practice and to learn from the resilient strategies people naturally put in place to prevent themselves from making errors.

Increasing numbers of patients using devices at home means it’s essential that they can be used safely across different settings and by people with a variety of backgrounds and abilities.

“The aim of CHI+MED is not to design the perfect infusion device, haemodialysis machine or glucometer [blood glucose meter]. It is to provide evidence and guidance so that industry, regulatory bodies, policy-makers, practitioners and patients can make better informed decisions…”

Further reading

This entry was posted in CHI+MED people, CHI+MED research, EPSRC, interesting papers, patient safety and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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