Patient safety


Patient safety is a vital healthcare issue. It needs skills and knowledge in diverse areas such as systems engineering and human factors. To improve patient safety, it is important to increase partnership or association between health sciences, systems engineering and human factors. The complexity of technology and patient care has transformed the conceptualization and delivery of nursing care. Medical practitioners depend on technologies to perform interventions that are life saving. However, the interaction between a nurse and machine may create the risk of devastating errors. Human factors engineering assist in identifying and addressing technology issues and errors that pose a threat to patient safety (Carayon & Wood, 2011). Therefore, the paper analyses anesthesia equipment and how it may be improved to ensure patient safety.

Anesthesia Equipment

Medical practitioners use anesthesia equipment during surgery to prevent pain and enhance muscle relaxation. The equipment entails three components that include gas delivery and mixing system, circuit system, and monitors (Ehrenwerth, Eisenkraft, & Berry, 2013). Gas delivery and mixing system deliver purified gasses that include nitrous oxide and oxygen. The gasses mix in a unique device that provides the required concentration. Further, the circuit system involves different hoses that connect to the endotracheal tube, mask, and the ventilator. The breathing circuit contains granules of ‘soda lime’ that absorb and purify carbon dioxide exhaled by the patient. The ventilator helps an anesthetist to set the flow of gasses, concentration of oxygen and anesthetic agent, and the breath rate per minute. Finally, monitors help anesthetists to evaluate and watch their patient and check operation progress. Monitors help professionals to make necessary adjustments to fluids and drugs required in operation. The monitors inform the anesthetist on the efficiency of the equipment and measures blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Human factors engineering ensures efficiency and effectiveness of the anesthetic machine. The application of the human factors engineering concepts on the anesthetic equipment assists in addressing any potential error or problem in the machine, which leads to patient safety.

Ways of improving Anesthesia Equipment

Human factors engineering applications are essential to improving the effectiveness of anesthetic equipment. Proper performance of the equipment increases patient safety during surgery.  First, the equipment can be improved through usability testing method. It involves human factors technicians testing the anesthetic machine to identify or determine any potential challenge and consequences that are unintended. Failure to apply the principles of human factors engineering in the interface design of the anesthetic machine may cause harm to patients. Usability testing tool enables professionals to detect any unsafe practice during the use of the machine. Usability testing will also help in determining if there is a need for workarounds for the anesthetic machine. For instance, nurses or surgeons may work close to the equipment in case it is faulty to ensure efficiency and elimination of fatal error hence enhancing the safety of a patient. Second, practitioners can improve the anesthetic equipment through forcing functions technique. The method prevents an action that in undesirable or unintended from occurring. For instance, the anesthetic machine can be engineered in a way that the various hoses function efficiently without stoppage during surgery process. The prevention of undesirable action increases patient safety. Third, standardization also helps in improving quality performance of the anesthetic machine. It improves the reliability of the equipment and information tracking through enhanced monitoring, hence promoting the safety of patients during surgical operation. Finally, resiliency efforts assist in improving the operation of anesthesia equipment. Resiliency efforts help in early detection and prevention of an error or unexpected event in the equipment from occurring. Therefore, the human factors engineering applications are effective in improving the anesthesia equipment; hence, increasing patient safety.

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  1. Carayon, P., Wood, K.E. (March 15, 2011). “Patient Safety: The Role of Human Factors and Systems Engineering.” NCIB. Retrieved on January 29, 2017 from
  2. Ehrenwerth, J., Eisenkraft, J. B., & Berry, J. M. (2013). Anesthesia equipment: principles and applications. Elsevier Health Sciences.
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