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Human-Computer Interaction in Health Care (Essay Sample)


The essay was about medical errors which may arise due to poor training of medical personnel on the use of certain computerized machines.


Human-Computer Interaction in Health Care
Your name
Your course
16th February 2010
Medical errors are increasing in hospitals and are normally considered a result of human error. Poor interface design which is due to poor human factor engineering (HFE) is the main factor which results in medical errors. Lack of usability testing of medical instruments is another factor which results to medical errors.
Poor human factor engineering results to problems such as poorly designed indicator lights inside ambulances and siren speakers on ambulances. Most indicator lights in ambulances are not properly designed to operate well during the day and night and may my cause unnecessary reflections affecting driver’s visibility. On the other hand, siren speakers may produce a lot of noise which interferes with emergency workers inside the ambulance and this may cause errors (Carl, Aaron & Elefterios, 2011)
Poor HFE leads to designing of machines which do not alert the user in time when they are in various modes. In addition, similar button control systems on medical instruments may confuse users and this may result to medical errors. Gadgets like infusion pumps used in hospitals to automate drip rates are prone to error. Drip chambers and IV tubing for preparation of medication may be reused leading overdose of patients. On the other hand, lack of usability testing may cause difficulties during operation of various machines leading to errors (Fairbanks & Caplan, 2004).
The following interventions may be employed to reduce medical errors: First indicator lights in ambulances should be properly designed for various environments; secondly sound produced by siren speakers on ambulance should not interfere with communication of emergency works. Similar control buttons should be spaced on machines to avoid confusion. Control buttons should be grouped in terms of usage frequency and relatedness. Labelling control buttons and varying their sizes can eliminate confusion and consequently reduce occurrence of medical errors.
Medical equipments should be designed to effectively alert the user in time when they are in various modes. They should have a standard operating procedure attached to them and users should be trained on how to use new medical equipments. Equipping machines with audible alerts is very essential and eliminates the chances of using a machine in the wrong mode. New and standardized machines should be used as they reduce the chances of medical practitioners from making errors during their practice (Kaye & Crowley, 2000). On the other hand IV tubing and drip chambers which are considered as human machine interfaces used in the preparation of medications are common sources of errors and should be color coded to indicate their current states of use.
In a nutshell human factor engineers should be incorporated during the process of designing medical equipments and machines to ensure user friendly machines, safer machines and efficient machines are available in the market. Machines should be evaluated by usability testing so as to know their effectiveness, their work output and to protect them from human error. Indeed information obtained during the testing process may be used to improve machines’ performance or even lead to development of more effective machines as argued by Fairbanks & Caplan (2004).
Do you think medical error can be totally eliminated when human factor engineers are incorporated in the machine designing process and usability testing is employed on newly designed machines?
Reply to Martha
It is true that human factor engineering is the main factor responsible for the high noise produced by the siren speaker and the extreme light produced in the ambulance. With proper designing, the siren should have been placed in a place where it could not affect communication of emergency workers in the ambulance and bring about hearing problems in that critical time of saving a patient’s life. The indicator light should have been dim at night but since it wasn’t designed for night operation it caused unnecessary reflection which effected driver visibility. The defibrillator should have been properly labelled to avoid confusion and designed properly so as to give appropriate response in time hence poor HFE lead to the error. (Fairbanks, Caplan, Bishop, Marks & Shah, 2007)
Reply to Gary
According to Gary, poor human factor engineering and human factors were responsible for most of the adverse events during the medical operation which I agree. On the side of poor HFE, the indicator light should have been dim; noise exposure on the paramedics should have been minimized to facilitate communication between the workers. Carl, Aaron & Elefterios (2011) argues that siren noise besides interfering with communication between paramedics may interfere with other drivers on the road which may cause accidents worsening situations. The defibrillator was not effective enough to elicit immediate response and this could only be attributed to poor HFE.
Joseph & Laurie (2003) argue that human factors like medical negligence may lead to errors during medical operations. It is known that paramed...
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