Human factors in action: getting "pumped" at a nursing usability laboratory

Healthc Q. 2006:9 Spec No:69-74. doi: 10.12927/hcq.2013.18463.


We describe our experience with a Nursing Usability Laboratory, where human factors design principles were applied to common nursing procedures. Our first step was to develop a human factors usability checklist. We then used this checklist while observing 11 nurses completing two standardized tasks on a simulated patient: (1) programming an insulin infusion and (2) programming a heparin infusion. We found that a usability checklist can help to uncover systematic error-provoking conditions in nursing tasks, that immediate improvements can be made in nursing training and practice and that participant nurses found the process useful. This paper will be of interest to any hospital seeking to enhance safety by applying human factors design principles.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Nursing Process*
  • Ontario
  • Program Development
  • Safety Management