Advisory Examines Impact of Distractions on Patient Safety

March 15, 2013 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Staff can take steps to reduce the impact of distractions by recognizing common sources of distraction and situations that are distraction-prone, identifying tasks or procedures that are most likely to result in error and harm as a result of distraction, and applying specific risk reduction strategies, states a March 2013 Pennsylvania Patient Safety**Advisoryarticle. According to the article, distraction is a common source of potential error that is well established within the fields of human factors research and cognitive psychology, and high levels of distraction in healthcare settings pose a constant threat to patient safety. New technologies have increased the number and types of distractions present in these settings. Analysis of reports submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority in 2010 and 2011 containing relevant terms, namely “distract,” “interrupt,” or “forgot,” identified 1,015 reports that could be attributed to distraction.

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