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Human factors and error prevention in emergency medicine
  1. Anthony Bleetman1,
  2. Seliat Sanusi2,
  3. Trevor Dale3,
  4. Samantha Brace4
  1. 1The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, UK
  2. 2University of Birmingham Medical School, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Retired Training Captain British Airways, Atrainability, Cranleigh, UK
  4. 4University of Warwick Medical School, Warwick, UK
  1. Correspondence to Anthony Bleetman, The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow, HA1 3UJ, UK; bleetman{at}


Emergency departments are one of the highest risk areas in health care. Emergency physicians have to assemble and manage unrehearsed multidisciplinary teams with little notice and manage critically ill patients. With greater emphasis on management and leadership skills, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of human factors in making changes to improve patient safety. Non-clinical skills are required to achieve this in an information-poor environment and to minimise the risk of errors. Training in these non-clinical skills is a mandatory component in other high-risk industries, such as aviation and, needs to be part of an emergency physician's skill set. Therefore, there remains an educational gap that we need to fill before an emergency physician is equipped to function as a team leader and manager. This review will examine the lessons from aviation and how these are applicable to emergency medicine. Solutions to averting errors are discussed and the need for formal human factors training in emergency medicine.

  • Clinical management
  • ECG
  • effectiveness
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • emergency care systems
  • prehospital care
  • resuscitation
  • systems
  • training

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  • Competing interests AB, TD and SB have been awarded a grant to provide a pilot course in human factors training by the College of Emergency Medicine. TD is Director of Atrainability Ltd. SS: none declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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