Overview of CHI+MED research

CHI+MED aimed to undertake research which transformed how interactive (programmable) medical devices are designed, bought and used, in ways that both prevent and reduce the consequences of medical errors. Our intention was to make the use of medical equipment safer, whether in hospitals or at home. As a result our research is helping nurses, doctors, managers, regulators, device manufacturers and others save lives. We have focussed on areas where we can make fundamental contributions to knowledge, but also have impact. The main areas are described below and in more detail on the linked pages.

Impact: the effect the project has had on practice
CHI+MED research has provoked and informed discussion amongst key decision makers about the safe use of interactive medical devices. We have shown that medical devices are not always used in the way that fits the assumptions of designers. We have developed ways that they can be designed so they are used more safely, and we have developed ways to check that their design helps prevent not cause accidents. Read more, and download our Insights booklet.

Normal use: understanding how medical devices are used in normal practice
Firstly we have aimed to understand normal practice, both of clinicians and other stakeholders, as only if the research community has a clear understanding of what is being done and why can effective improvements be made.
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Data entry: entering data and numbers safely
A particular area of concern with respect to safety of interactive devices centres around entering data. The design of data entry systems can have a big impact on whether this is done safely, and poor design contributes to errors. Entering numbers is particularly significant for patient safety. An important foundation of this work is understanding the limitations of our cognition that lead to mistakes being made.
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Tools: practical support for professionals and regulators
An important aim of CHI+MED has been to explore novel but practical tools that can help manufacturers create safe medical devices, help regulators ensure those devices are safe, and help procurement staff choose the safest ones to buy. We have also developed practical support for professionals based on that research in a variety of forms such as guidance documents, practical techniques and computer based tools.
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Hazards: determining risks and hazards, and understanding them
A precursor to preventing things going wrong is to understand the hazards and risks involved – what can go wrong and how likely is it that it does. We have both developed general processes for determining hazards related to using medical devices, demonstrated their application and also identified and raised awareness of issues for particular devices and classes of devices.
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Incidents: investigating what went wrong, understanding to avoid reoccurrence
When things do go wrong, the resulting incidents must be investigated and understood, if they are to be avoided in the future. A strand of research has involved exploring the practice of reporting and investigating incidents, as well as how they are reported. A particular focus has explored the design of incident reporting forms.
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Infusion Pumps: drug delivery devices
CHI+MED used infusion pumps as a major class of device studied due to the frequency and severity of safety issues with them. They are used to deliver drugs and other liquids to patients and over or under infusion can cause serious harm or even death. Our analysis tools and techniques demonstrated previously undetected defects in the user interface of commercial medical devices in use in hospitals across the US and EU. Several identified defects have safety implications, as they could cause use errors such as misconfiguration of infusion parameters that could lead to patient harm.
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Education: public engagement and educational support
An important part of any research project, and especially one involving transformational change, is to engage with the general public about the research. CHI+MED placed a strong emphasis on engaging school children and their teachers, including developing educational resources. We have also conducted action research around the effectiveness of these activities.
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Publications: articles written by CHI+MED staff
Our research publications.