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Appl Ergon. 2010 Sep;41(5):657-65. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2009.12.011. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Human factors in patient safety as an innovation.

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Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement and Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.


The use of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) tools, methods, concepts and theories has been advocated by many experts and organizations to improve patient safety. To facilitate and support the spread of HFE knowledge and skills in healthcare and patient safety, we propose to conceptualize HFE as innovations whose diffusion, dissemination, implementation and sustainability need to be understood and specified. Using Greenhalgh et al. (2004) model of innovation, we identified various factors that can either hinder or facilitate the spread of HFE innovations in healthcare organizations. Barriers include lack of systems thinking, complexity of HFE innovations and lack of understanding about the benefits of HFE innovations. Positive impact of HFE interventions on task performance and the presence of local champions can facilitate the adoption, implementation and sustainability of HFE innovations. This analysis concludes with a series of recommendations for HFE professionals, researchers and educators.

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