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Journal of Patient Safety:
doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e3181de47f9
Original Articles

Application of Human Error Theory in Case Analysis of Wrong Procedures

Duthie, Elizabeth A. RN, PhD

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Abstract

Objectives: The goal of this study was to contribute to the emerging body of literature about the role of human behaviors and cognitive processes in the commission of wrong procedures.

Methods: Case analysis of 5 wrong procedures in operative and nonoperative settings using James Reason's human error theory was performed.

Results: The case analysis showed that cognitive underspecification, cognitive flips, automode processing, and skill-based errors were contributory to wrong procedures. Wrong-site procedures accounted for the preponderance of the cases. Front-line supervisory staff used corrective actions that focused on the performance of the individual without taking into account cognitive factors.

Conclusions: System fixes using human cognition concepts have a greater chance of achieving sustainable safety outcomes than those that are based on the traditional approach of counseling, education, and disciplinary action for staff.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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