Offering the latest news in health care quality and safety, the ISQua blog also features guest posts from the best and brightest in the industry.

By ISQua Wednesday. Jul 31, 2019

Designing for Safety - HEPS2019

Last year ISQua and the International Ergonomics Association IEA ( signed a cooperation agreement which aims to build on the commonality of our respective missions – to improve the safety of patients.


Human factors and ergonomics have been around for a long time, yet very few in healthcare have the knowledge and skills to apply the principles. This is despite the many studies that indicate that if one wants to have safe care one should design for safety. We generally apply the principles when there is a clinical incident.


I firmly believe that Human Factors and Ergonomics should be an integral part of the health provider curriculum – in medical schools and nursing colleges. It should be an integral part of the curriculum, weaved into clinical scenarios as well as having it as a separate subject – much like anatomy, physiology and pathology.


As part of our growing partnership with IEA, we have agreed to support each other at our respective conferences. In Cape Town, we will have sessions from Ergo Africa led by Andrew Todd, as well as sessions from other leaders in Human factors – a plenary by Tommaso Bellandi, and sessions by Sue Hignett and Martin Egerth, to name but a few.


I attended the HEPS conference  in Lisbon in the first week of July which was an excellent warm-up to the sessions we will have in Cape Town.


Now held every 3 years, the meeting brings together researchers in human factors and ergonomics with a focus on applicability to healthcare.


ISQua Academy Member and Expert, Charles Vincent, and I opened the conference with a plenary on translating the complex theories of patient safety into a construct that could be applied. Charles provided an expert overview of the latest theories he and Rene Amalberti have developed in their book - Safer Healthcare: Strategies for the Real World.


The other speakers included Tommaso, Sue and Pascal Carayon who looked forward at the future of digital health and the human factors implications.


The meeting was a refreshing experience. My understanding of what it takes to be safe became clearer with increased knowledge and understanding of the methods of human factors. I applied this in the talk on Situation Awareness based on my work with the RCPCH led and Health Foundation funded programme, Situation Awareness for Everyone (S.A.F.E.)


Overall a good way to spend three valuable days in Lisbon. Our partnership with the IEA will continue to grow. Thanks to Teresa and her team for a great conference.


HEPS 2019




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