National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare



National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare [NCHFEH]

MedStar Institute for Innovation

MedStar Health

Washington DC



Human Factors Engineering, Usability, and Cognitive Engineering approaches to improving reliability, quality, and patient safety in healthcare.

Director:  Rollin J. (Terry) Fairbanks MD MS FACEP    [Biography]   [Publications]  
Scientific Director:  Vicki R. Lewis, PhD  [Biography]
Human Factors Engineering Research Scientist:  Robert Stephens, PhD  [Biography]
Administrative Coordinator: Erica Savage

Research Assistant:  To Be Announced


Check back soon for the new website debut with a complete redesign


Dr. Fairbanks will be presenting at the 1st Annual Emergency Care Patient Safety Summit: Excellence in Outcomes (May 5th-6th,2011) sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Patient Safety Foundation will bring together a distinguished group of key stakeholders and thought leaders devoted to solving the patient safety challenges associated with providing emergency care in the pre-hospital and Emergency Department (ED) setting. Attendees will include emergency medicine providers, nursing, administrators, EMS, pharmacy, risk management and patient safety officers and researchers. [Brochure]  

In August 2010 The National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare was founded as part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation in Washington DC, in collaboration with the MedStar Health Research Institute, Washington Hospital Center, and the Georgetown University Department of Emergency Medicine.

The Center's is a unique human factors engineering scientific center located within a 9-hospital healthcare system. Once fully operational, the Center will include a core staff (physician-researcher with human factors engineering training, two Human Factors Engineering Research Scientists, a research assistant, and an administrative coordinator), and both intramural and extramural affiliated faculty from multiple domains and specialties, liaisons with essentially all clinical specialty areas, and close collaborations with several Human Factors Engineering academic programs including the University of Buffalo Department of Industrial Systems Engineering, the George Mason University Department of Psychology Human Factors and Applied Cognition and others, in addition to human factors consulting groups.


ASHP Conference for Leaders in Health-System Pharmacy, Monday October 18, Chicago  (Dr. Fairbanks). [link]

American Hospital Association/NPSF Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship, October 25, Chicago (Dr. Fairbanks)

Presentation at the American College of Physician Executives Leadership Summit: Terry Fairbanks joins with ACPE CEO Barry Silbaugh and Jeff Skiles, co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight, US Airways Flight 1549 to contrast between aviation industry and healthcare approaches to safety and teamwork. [link to more info]

For an overview of philosophy/approach, see ASHP TV interview Dr. Fairbanks: "Human Factors Engineering and Medication Safety" [video link]



See Also: [Emergency Pharmacist Website]       [EffectiveRCA Website]       [Just Culture Page]

Research Environment

The National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare lives within an exceptional research infrastructure, a large 9-hospital and outpatient clinical operation, and one of the larges medical simulation centers in the US.  Access to such a robust clinical laboratory in an organization with such a well developed research infrastructure is unparallelled.
MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) | MedStar Health
SiTEL Medical Simulation | MedStar Health
9 Hospitals in the DC and Baltimore area | MedStar Health

News! MedStar Heath is part of 2010 NIH's 2010 CTSA Awards.  This CTSA Consortium, the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS), which includes Georgetown, Howard, MedStar Health Research Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has become one of the largest biomedical and clinical research networks in the nation. 

Research Collaborators and Consultant Partners (past and present)

Usability Associates
John Wreathall & Co
Helmet Fire, Inc
Rochester RHIO
UserWorks, Inc
Rand Corporation
Human Centered Strategies
Rational HealthCare LLC

University of Florida Jacksonville Department of Emergency Medicine
University at Buffalo, Dept of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Human Factors Engineering Program
Virginia Tech Dept of Industrial Systems Engineering, Center for Safety & Human Factors
University of Pittsburgh - EMSARN
George Mason University Human Factors Program
University of Rochester Department of Emergency Medicine
Rochester Institute of Technology

Research Funding (past and present)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioEngineering (NIBIB)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Emergency Medicine Patient Safety Foundation (EMPSF)
Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM)
Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities of Rochester
Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF)
ASHP Research Foundation

Other Human Factors Engineering Links Related to Healthcare

FDA's CDRH [video] describes integration of HFE into medical device design to reduce use error
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Red Forest Consulting
Cognitive Technologies Laboratory, University of Chicago
VA National Center for Patient Safety
University of Wisconsin System Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety
FDA Human Factors Program
Bad Human Factors Designs
Nielsen's Usability Heuristics
Health Information Technology Failures
Usability Toolkit
University of Texas Human Factors Research Project
University of Maryland Human Factors Research Program
Virginia Tech Human Factors Engineering

Recommended Medical Human Factors and Patient Safety Courses

U. Wisconsin Madison: SEIPS Short Course on Human Factors Engineering & Patient Safety (Summer)
Red Forrest Consulting: Human Factors Engineering & Medical Device Workshop, April 20-21, 2010
HRET Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship (Annual)

Human Factors Engineering-Related Position Announcements in Healthcare [note: email to add a position]

Post-doc position at the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
--post-doctoral research associate in human factors in health care and patient safety [pdf]

Baylor Health Care System is recruiting a "Human Factors Researcher" responsible for applying and developing human factors principles in improving patient safety. Expected starting time is October 1, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. The candidate should have a Masters degree in applicable field with significant (preferably 2-4 years) experience. Contact Yan Xiao for further information.

Upcoming Human Factors-Related Conferences

EMPSF 1st Annual Patient Safety Summit--Patient Safety in Emergency Care: Excellence in Outcomes
May 5th-6th, 2011, Las Vegas, NV

EMS Patient Safety

The EMS Agency Research Network for Quality & Safety Improvement (EMSARN)
Helmet Fire Feedback Loop & Event Reporting System
EMS Close
EMS Provider Crash Safety

Recent Healthcare/Patient Safety/Human Factors Publications
[Click here for Publications, including links to abstracts and/or full articles]

Contact: Terry Fairbanks

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