Patient Safety: Hospital Technicians and Information Overload
- Joel M. Haight (University of Pittsburgh) | Harry F. Wetz Jr. (retired from INTEGRIS Health) | Lisa J. Daves (INTEGRIS Health) | Obhafuoso D. Olumese (University of Pittsburgh)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- December 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 24 - 29
- 2018. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 5 in the last 30 days
- 5 since 2007
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- Cardiac hospital monitoring technicians monitor 800,000 alarms per month and vital signs for 30 patients per day.
- These healthcare professionals are exposed to many distractions per shift and are expected to act on too much information.
- The authors make recommendations to reduce information processing load on technicians.
The study presented in this article was undertaken because risk managers in this hospital system became concerned about the number of alarm-related deaths occurring in the healthcare industry and commissioned the study. The monitoring technician position and the work setting studied are similar to industrial operations such as oil and gas processing operations, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paper manufacturing, specialty chemical manufacturing and power plant operations. A technician sits at a monitoring station watching the feedback from the operating system and responds accordingly depending upon what the feedback from the system indicates (or, in this case, what patient monitoring data indicate).
This article presents the results of an analysis of the cognitive information processing workload of patient monitoring technicians in the cardiac floor central monitoring units (CMU) at five U.S. hospitals. The researchers conducted the analyses during a physical visit to four of the hospitals and through conversations with the management team, nurses and technicians at all five hospitals June 1-2, 2016. The study’s objective was to determine whether technicians’ information processing (IP) workload was too high for error-free operation.
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