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How Can Human Factors Engineering Help Prevent Infections?


Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, health services researcher and research scientist at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, explains how the new concept of human factors engineering can be used in infection prevention.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability).

“Human factors engineering is a relatively new field, especially within infection prevention. We’ve been seeing it used in patient safety for several years now. There [are] examples of human factors engineering and redesign efforts related to things like electronic medical record implementation, [and] the use of different types of technologies, such as defibrillators and IV pumps. There [have] been studies around safety in the operating room environment.
[Human factors engineering] is still a relatively new concept, but we’re beginning to see some examples in which it’s being utilized to improve the maintenance of central lines. There’s also some work that’s being done looking at implementation of bundles related to [Clostridium difficile] infection and prevention and I think we’re going to be seeing more utilization as we go forward around other infectious diseases and transmission of disease. For example, in work that I’m currently involved with, we’re looking at how we can use human factors to help us better understand the use of personal protective equipment: both personal protective equipment as it applies to the type of equipment you would use for Ebola, for example, but also, just general use of personal protective equipment in everyday healthcare settings.”
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