Human error

Human error cartoon by Duke Medical Center


Human error is related to the field of Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics, and refers to the reliability of humans in fields such as manufacturing, transportation, the military, or medicine. Human performance can be affected by many factors such as age, state of mind, physical health, attitude, emotions, propensity for certain common mistakes, errors and cognitive biases, etc.

Human reliability is very important due to the contributions of humans to the resilience of systems and to possible adverse consequences of human errors or oversights, especially when the human is a crucial part of the large socio-technical systems as is common today. User-centered design and error-tolerant design are just two of many terms used to describe efforts to make technology better suited to operation by humans.


There are many ways to categorize human error such as fatigue, lack of training, accidents, etc. related to user errors.

User Error[]

If an error is made with a device that is working the way it was designed, the error has been called a “user” error[1]

Use Error[]

USE errors are not considered to be a person’s fault, but the fault of the “system” or "device" (equipment, policies, communications, staffing, etc.)[2]


To fix these types of errors Biomeds must find out what really happened. To find out, a Root Cause Analysis (ask “why, why, why?) is performed to determine what went wrong.

To change the broken system the staff operates in so errors are less likely Biomeds would perform tasks such as,

  • Implementing better policies
  • Supply clearer, basic, and simple procedures (instructions)
  • Provide additional training
  • Add improved communications
  • Re-design better equipment
  • Furnish a less chaotic environment[3]




  1. Painter, Frank. Human Factor and Medical Device Accidents. University of Connecticut. 2005.
  2. Painter, Frank. Human Factor and Medical Device Accidents. ....
  3. Painter, Frank. Human Factor ....

See Also[]