Annex 4 - compilation of approaches

Human factors in healthcare

Human factors is the science of understanding human performance within a given system. Translated into a healthcare context, human factors has been defined as enhancing clinical performance through an understanding of the effects of teamwork, tasks, equipment, workspace, culture, organisation on human behaviour and abilities, and application of that knowledge in clinical settings.

Designing healthcare facilities, equipment and the delivery of care around an understanding of human behaviour is vital to reduce the potential for human error. This also helps healthcare staff to act as a barrier against harm. Human factors is a broad discipline that studies the relationship between human behaviour, system design and safety.

Many healthcare organisations have carried out work on implementing human factors and the ‘how to’ guide aims to:

  • broaden understanding among healthcare teams of the potential ways in which human factors methods can be applied to improve patient safety
  • share practical experience of applying human factors in healthcare, using case studies from different care settings
  • signpost healthcare teams to further information and resources to support them to implement human factors in their own organisations.

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