By Sean Hägen, IDSA - IDSA Board of Directors Section Vice President; IDSA Medical Section Chair
It’s reprehensible that the third leading cause of death in a hospital is due to mistakes! John James, PhD and former NASA scientist, estimates 440,000 deaths a year in US hospitals are due to medical errors (of which use error is a subset). Close calls and serious harm may well be 10- to 20-fold more common than lethal harm. And those numbers do not include surgical centers, clinics, private practices and long-term, acute care facilities.
Usability Design, the collaboration of disciplines such as industrial design and human factors engineering, must not forget the gravity of our responsibility. Although we may not have a great deal of direct impact on clinical misdiagnosis (a subset of the above statistic), we can, and do, influence procedural protocol design. In other words, we can do more than designing out use error in devices (which is certainly impactful). We should also be looking at the health care industry and culture from a systems/service design perspective.