Using human factors engineering to improve patient safety in the cardiovascular operating room

Ayse P. Gurses, Elizabeth A. Martinez, Laura Bauer, George Kim, Lisa H. Lubomski, Jill A. Marsteller, Priyadarshini R. Pennathur, Chris Goeschel, Peter J. Pronovost, David Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Despite significant medical advances, cardiac surgery remains a high risk procedure. Sub-optimal work system design characteristics can contribute to the risks associated with cardiac surgery. However, hazards due to work system characteristics have not been identified in the cardiovascular operating room (CVOR) in sufficient detail to guide improvement efforts. The purpose of this study was to identify and categorize hazards (anything that has the potential to cause a preventable adverse patient safety event) in the CVOR. An interdisciplinary research team used prospective hazard identification methods including direct observations, contextual inquiry, and photographing to collect data in 5 hospitals for a total 22 cardiac surgeries. We performed thematic analysis of the qualitative data guided by a work system model. 60 categories of hazards such as practice variations, high workload, non-compliance with evidence-based guidelines, not including clinicians' in medical device purchasing decisions were found. Results indicated that hazards are common in cardiac surgery and should be eliminated or mitigated to improve patient safety. To improve patient safety in the CVOR, efforts should focus on creating a culture of safety, increasing compliance with evidence based infection control practices, improving communication and teamwork, and designing better tools and technologies through partnership among all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1804
Number of pages4
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Cardiac surgery
  • Human factors
  • Medical error
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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