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Hum Factors. 1996 Dec;38(4):574-92.

Users as designers: how people cope with poor HCI design in computer-based medical devices.

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  • 1Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


In this paper we examine how users interact with a computer-based infusion device adapted for terbutaline infusion to treat preterm labor in women experiencing high-risk pregnancies. This study examines (a) the human-computer interaction (HCI) deficiencies in the device as related to this context of use, (b) how the device characteristics increase the potential for error, and (c) the tailoring strategies developed by users to insulate themselves from failure. Interviews with nurses and tests of the behavior of the infusion device in different conditions identified several classic HCI deficiencies: complex and arbitrary sequences of operation, mode errors caused by poor differentiation of multiple operating modes intended for different contexts, ambiguous alarms, getting lost in multiple displays, and poor feedback on device state and behavior.

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