Understanding situation awareness and its importance in patient safety
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Understanding situation awareness and its importance in patient safety

Heather Gluyas Associate professor, Murdoch University, Mandurah, Australia
Sarah-Jane Harris Co-ordinator of nursing practice and policy, St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Perth, Australia

Situation awareness describes an individual’s perception, comprehension and subsequent projection of what is going on in the environment around them. The concept of situation awareness sits within the group of non-technical skills that include teamwork, communication and managing hierarchical lines of communication. The importance of non-technical skills has been recognised in safety-critical industries such as aviation, the military, nuclear, and oil and gas. However, health care has been slow to embrace the role of non-technical skills such as situation awareness in improving outcomes and minimising the risk of error. This article explores the concept of situation awareness and the cognitive processes involved in maintaining it. In addition, factors that lead to a loss of situation awareness and strategies to improve situation awareness are discussed.

Nursing Standard. 30, 34, 50-60. doi: 10.7748/ns.30.34.50.s47



Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software.

Received: 29 October 2015

Accepted: 10 December 2015