Error correction

A team from Imperial College, St Mary’s Hospital and the Helen Hamlyn Centre have begun a three-year research project into reducing human and systematic errors within the healthcare system.

The Designing Out Medical Error (DOME) project has received more than £1.3m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The research will explore safety approaches in analogous industries to determine design and procedural errors in the current system.

Studies will focus on the healthcare process, usability of interfaces and the introduction of ‘smart’ equipment. According to the EPSRC, preventable adverse incidents occur in up to five per cent of all hospital admissions. This totals more than £2bn in extra healthcare costs that could be avoided if patient safety is improved.

The government’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has claimed that a design-led approach will prove effective in identifying procedural errors and that he would like to see such an approach adopted more widely in the NHS.