Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society Health Care Symposium. Since I work on medical devices, I mainly went to the presentations in the medical devices track and found them to be very interesting and educational. The opening keynote speaker, Dr. Ross Ungerleider, talked about practices that foster an environment (particularly in an operating room) conducive to innovative thinking and learning from human error. There were a number of presenters from the medical device industry who shared case studies, lessons learned, and various models for applying usability in their individual companies and departments. We were also fortunate to learn about some changes coming for human factors standards and the latest FDA perspectives on best practices, which I thought I’d share with you this week.
Several years ago a good friend who knows my interest in human factors and engineering psychology gave me a book called Set Phasers on Stun and Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error, by Steven Casey. I started to read it again recently and wanted to share it with you because the book demonstrates, according to the message on the jacket, “how technological failures result from the incompatibilities between the way things are designed and the way people actually perceive, think, and act. New technologies will succeed or fail based on our ability to minimize these incompatibilities between the characteristics of people and the characteristics of the things we think and use.” In the book Casey relates quite a few real-life stories about the interactions of people with modern technology and discusses the what caused the resulting human error. So if you need some new reading material, I encourage you to pick up a copy – I think you’ll find it fascinating!