[Swansea] Unsafe in any bed – public lecture with CHI+MED’s Prof Harold Thimbleby, 26 February 2013, 6.30pm

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Unsafe in any bed
Public lecture

Tuesday 26 February, 18:30-20:00, Taliesin Arts Centre, supported by Swansea University
Part of Swansea University’s Festival of Research programme of public lectures

Unsafe At Any Speed was the title of Ralph Nader’s damning critique of the 1960s car industry. We are at a similar position with today’s healthcare: Terrible, but quite able to improve.

Professor Ross Koppel will present examples of Healthcare IT and explore why so much of it fails to respond to the needs of clinicians and patients. CHI+MED’s Professor Harold Thimbleby will show how many of these problems arise from design failings that remain invisible until it is too late. How can these problems be avoided, so patients are safer? Together Ross and Harold will debate with the audience to respond to ideas for improved healthcare in our increasingly computer-dominated hospitals.

The event will be chaired by David Ford, Professor of Health Informatics and Director of the Health Information Research Unit for Wales, Swansea University

Human Error is Not the Problem
The usual view is often that when something bad happens to a patient, then somebody must surely have done something bad? Although that’s a simple story, it’s usually quite wrong. The more useful and nuanced view acknowledges that while you can reduce errors you cannot – even with all the training in the world – prevent all errors from ever happening.

Rather than trying to avoid errors you want to manage error to to reduce harm. (Only harm matters to patients.) With a background combining psychology and computer science, Ross and Harold will show how current system design conspires to cause error and hide the causes of error. Blaming nurses just postpones improvement.

“We will show that better design (often just changes to software) can reduce harm significantly. We then explain why industry is reluctant to improve, and how new policies could help improve technology.”

About the speakers
Professor Ross Koppel, PhD, FACMI, is at the University of Pennsylvania’s Sociology Department and School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA. Koppel is lead investigator on the National Science Foundation study of hospital cyber communications, and at Harvard University he is evaluating new Healthcare IT (HIT) platforms and applications. He is a well-known investigator on studies of patient safety and medication error. He coauthored the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Guide to reducing unintended consequences of HIT. His most recent book, First Do Less Harm: Confronting the Inconvenient Problems of Patient Safety (Cornell University Press) was published a few months ago.

Professor Koppel is a leading scholar of healthcare IT and of the interactions of people, computers and workplaces. His articles in Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Health Affairs, and The New England Journal of Medicine, etc, are considered seminal works in the field. His work focuses on the use of computer systems in hospitals. Prof Koppel’s research typically combines ethnographic research, extensive statistical analysis, surveys, and usability studies.

Ross Koppel will present examples of Health IT and explore why so much of the technology fails to respond to the needs of clinicians and patients.

Professor Harold Thimbleby, HonFRSA, FIET, CEng, FRCP (Edin) is in Swansea University’s Department of Computer Science and, although a computer scientist, was elected a Fellow of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians in 2012.

He has been a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award holder, a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow and is Emeritus Gresham Professor of Geometry.

He became concerned about healthcare systems when one of his students ended up in intensive care and has since been working on human error and system design, to make healthcare safer. His 2007 book on his work Press On (MIT Press) has won two international prizes including the American Publishers’ Association best book award in computer science.

Harold Thimbleby is currently working on the CHI+MED project (Multidisciplinary Computer-Human Interaction research for the design and safe use of interactive medical devices) and his passion is designing dependable computer systems to accommodate human error.





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