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Center for Human Factors in Healthcare

August 2, 2011

MedStar Health in the United States has announced the formation of the “National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare,” a unique scientific research center that applies safety science methods to healthcare.

The mission of the Center is to improve patient safety in today’s complex world of medicine, identify and test ways to better protect patients from harm, and help create an ultra-safe care environment at MedStar Health and beyond. The Center is the largest human factors engineering enterprise in the U.S. that is situated within a healthcare system.

The National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare utilizes the same safety science that has created dramatic improvements in safety in other domains -specifically in the military and in the aviation, transportation, and nuclear energy industries. The Center applies these methods to all aspects of healthcare: to medical devices and instruments, to systems and processes of care, and to the overall work environment.

“The science of safety is not new. The techniques that our Center applies began to emerge in the 1940s when the military and the aviation industry began to learn that a scientifically driven optimized design of the human-technology interface has a direct impact on error rates, efficiency, and safety. Healthcare as an industry has been fairly slow to apply this safety science to health systems,” says Rollin J. (Terry) Fairbanks, MD, MS, the Center’s Director. “Our Center has gathered expert human factors scientists to work within healthcare, and we will benefit from close collaboration with other parts of the MedStar Institute for Innovation, specifically the Simulation and Training Environment Lab, the Center for Infonovation (information technology), Building Sciences Center, and MedStar Inventor Services.”

Read the complete article.

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