From the AAMI’s blog:
“We are extraordinarily grateful that awareness of human factors (HF) has been growing in the healthcare community. For example, the FDA’s inclusion of HF requirements in its 510(k) licensing processing was a landmark event recognizing that attention needs to be paid to how the design of medical devices influences the likelihood of error.
However, in our work applying and teaching the philosophy of HF, we have found that it sometimes requires clarification.
First and foremost, the term “human factors” is a bit of a misnomer. This term implies that this is a discipline concerned solely with humans. However, it is important to understand that HF is really the study of humans in context. Rather than a pure study of human abilities (e.g., memory, attention, reaction time, physical-lifting limits), HF is an attempt to understand how human strengths and limitations are exemplified by the world around them. Unlike a tangible medical device that one can point to, HF deals with intangible qualities. It studies how well policies, processes, technologies, and humans fit together in delivering safe and efficient care. The routes leading to patient harm far exceed those that lead to caregivers’ original intention. Medication administration for example, can be affected by the physical design of hospitals, shift schedules of hospital staff, the design of pharmacy software, lighting at the bedside, and infinitely more variables. These are all system factors that influence patient safety, and they are anything but limited to human qualities.”
Read the full post at Christopher Colvin: Clarifying Human Factors AAMIblog (1 April 2013).
AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) are on Twitter at @aami_connect and their conference and expo, AAMI 2013, runs from 1-3 June 2013 in Long Beach, California.