Human factors and medication errors: a case study
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Human factors and medication errors: a case study

Heather Gluyas Post-graduate lecturer in patient safety, quality and clinical governance, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
Paul Morrison Dean, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

Human beings are error prone. A significant component of human error is flaws inherent in human cognitive processes, which are exacerbated by situations in which the individual making the error is distracted, stressed or overloaded, or does not have sufficient knowledge to undertake an action correctly. The scientific discipline of human factors deals with environmental, organisational and job factors, as well as human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way that potentially gives rise to human error. This article discusses how cognitive processing is related to medication errors. The case of a coronial inquest into the death of a nursing home resident is used to highlight the way people think and process information, and how such thinking and processing may lead to medication errors.

Nursing Standard. 29, 15,37-42. doi: 10.7748/ns.29.15.37.e9520

Received: 22 August 2014

Accepted: 30 September 2014

Published in print: 10 December 2014

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review