Surgery Through a Human Factors and Ergonomics Lens



This chapter explores the history and several dominant theories from human factor engineering science and practice. It illustrates how the discipline evolved from aviation accidents in the 1940s, through industrial safety challenges in the 1960s, to consumer products in the 1980s and onwards. Some of the hidden challenges with automation are introduced, illustrating surprises that can occur as a result, and more up-to-date approaches to the integration of human and machine. The importance of design on human performance is discussed, both in terms of user acceptance of new devices and with respect to key design heuristics, with an example of how design can create threats for healthcare staff as well as patients. Three complementary models of human cognition in complex systems are then described—situational awareness, naturalistic decision making, and distributed cognition—which illustrate different approaches to understanding how humans make decisions within different work contexts. Finally, performance-shaping factors are discussed, and a model presented of how threats and errors within the system of surgery can accumulate to create more serious problems that can eventually lead to an adverse event.


Human factors Ergonomics Error Safety Design Teamwork Decision-making Awareness Cognition 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative MedicineMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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