How many times have you tried to plug a USB in the wrong way round? Since both sides are usually similar on the outside, chances are that you have tried to force a USB in upside down at least once. The consequences of this mistake are usually negligible, but in healthcare, poor design can have serious repercussions.
We all know how to plug in a flash drive, so why do we still slip up? Usually, it’s because we are concentrating on something more important. Imagine the same happening in a busy emergency unit where healthcare providers are carrying out life-saving procedures. They’re short on time and working under pressure. One of the paramedics is trying to resuscitate a patient who just went into cardiac arrest — he charges the defibrillator, presses “on”, but instead of shocking, the device switches off, causing the team to waste precious time. What went wrong? And how could the same issue be prevented in the future?
Neil Ballinger, head of EMEA at manufacturing parts supplier EU Automation, explains the role of human factors engineering in optimising medical devices.