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Annals for Hospitalists Inpatient Notes - Human Factors Engineering and Inpatient Care—New Ways to Solve Old Problems

Type of publication Not peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (non peer-reviewed)
Author Clack Lauren, Sax Hugo,
Project Human Factors Analysis of Infectious Risk Moments
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Review article (non peer-reviewed)

Journal Annals of Internal Medicine
Volume (Issue) 166(8)
Page(s) HO2 - HO2
Title of proceedings Annals of Internal Medicine
DOI 10.7326/m17-0544


Drawing on psychology and engineering, human factors engineering (HFE) is a scientific discipline that applies knowledge about human strengths and weaknesses to optimize interactions with the environment. The goal of HFE is to maximize overall work system productivity and human well-being. When applied to health care, the aim is to ensure safe, effective, and efficient patient care—goals that align with the mission of hospitalists. A major underlying principle of HFE is that structure shapes behavior. Just as water always flows through the path of least resistance, health care providers' decisions are influenced by the structure of their practice environment. Even well-educated, well-intentioned individuals make mistakes if a system is not well-adapted to human cognitive and physical capabilities. The field of infection prevention is rife with examples of how a small change in the health care environment can have a major impact on clinician behavior. We discuss 3 such examples here.