Table 1

Domains of specialisation within the human factors and ergonomics discipline

DomainSample topicsSample patient safety related applications
Physical ergonomics
  • Lifting/handling tasks

  • Repetitive movements

  • Physical workload

  • (Re)design of physical space and layout

  • Design of patient rooms to reduce falls

  • Number and placement of sinks at healthcare facilities to increase compliance with hand-washing guidelines

  • Making sure adequate lighting is available in medication dispensing areas

Cognitive ergonomics
  • Training programme development

  • Design and evaluation of tools and technologies

  • Decision-making under time pressure

  • Mental workload

  • Development of training programmes to improve safety of care

  • Usability testing of smart intravenous pumps

  • Development of decision support tools to reduce diagnostic errors

Macro ergonomics
  • Coordination

  • Teamwork

  • Safety culture

  • Large-scale organisational change

  • Participatory approach to (re)design efforts

  • Job design (eg, scheduling, breaks, nature of tasks)

  • Reducing readmissions through improved discharge planning and coordination

  • Studying the impact of new health information technologies on work system, processes and outcomes