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Understanding the potential role of human factors and ergonomics applications for healthcare teams in Torbay Hospital

Human factors and ergonomics are being used in Devon to help a wide range of teams to improve patient safety.

Human factors and ergonomics are being used in Devon to help a wide range of teams to improve patient safety.

The project has been led by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Human Factors Programme Manager, Ellie Forbes, and Consultant Intensivist, Dr Tod Guest, with the support of Health Education England.

Ellie was seconded from her role as Matron for Child Health and has worked with both the intensive care team and other allied health care professionals over the past 12 months.

The primary aims of Ellie’s project were to:

  • Understand how human factors and ergonomics (HFE) could be fully integrated into current processes and to raise awareness of HFE with staff across the Trust;
  • Use simulation training as an educational tool to raise HFE issues and to analyse HFE issues that are identified;
  • Develop and undertake a training needs analysis for all staff groups within the Trust in order to design and deliver HFE training to staff groups within the Trust.

Initially, Ellie worked with staff from the Trust’s intensive care unit to help identify where improvements might be made by looking at human factors and ergonomic issues.

Her work with this team is now being built on by undertaking a SCORE (Safety, Communication, Operational Reliability, Engagement) survey to understand safety culture and climate in ICU. Further work has been to support the TEREMA (Team Resource Management) training which has been successfully delivered to staff in theatres, ICU and other areas within the surgical division.  

Following requests for help and recommendations, a second aspect of Ellie’s project has been working with a range of health professionals who have had little or no experience of human factors and simulation.

These teams included dieticians, mortuary staff, ophthalmologists, midwives and the AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm) screening team who have all now benefited from human factors and/or simulation training.

Ellie said: “I worked with the various teams in a range of different ways. With the dieticians I was invited to look collaboratively at their service and to produce interventions in order to improve services for patients. We wanted to gain a better understanding of what was happening in these teams and the focus of my involvement was about how to use in situ simulation to improve their understanding of managing a collapsed patient in their department, which is isolated from and unfamiliar to the acute medical teams.

“An example of the type of simulation that the dieticians faced included dealing with a patient in a waiting room whose condition was deteriorating and the staff had to recognise that they would need further assistance and help.”

She added: “Undertaking the fellowship has enabled me to have a greater understanding of the complexities of human factors and ergonomics in healthcare. I have been privileged to work with a wide range of professionals within the organisation.

“There is still plenty to do in terms of understanding the way in which all the systems operate within our hospital and how we can better organise our systems and processes to enable staff to do their jobs safely and effectively.”


This Page was last updated on: 21 July 2016

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