Human Factors and Medication Errors


This educational program will explore human factors and the role it plays in medication safety. The speaker will first review human cognition and the cognitive tendencies and biases that influence human behavior, including confirmation bias, inattentional blindness, hindsight bias, normalcy bias, and others. The focus of the program will be on conditions, both human and system, that degrade human performance and strategies to reduce their impact on patient safety. The speaker will also review human-centered system design strategies that can improve system reliability by preventing human error, detecting human error before it can reach patients, or recovering from human error before it causes patient harm.

Intended Audience:

  • Medication Safety and Patient Safety Officers
  • Risk Management and Quality Managers
  • Medication Safety Committees
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy Technicians
  • Physicians 

Learning Objectives:

Following completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the differences between the automatic mode of cognition and the problem-solving mode of cognition.

  2. List conditions that degrade human performance.

  3. Review perceptual and cognitive biases and how to reduce their negative impact on patient safety.

  4. Describe system design strategies that can prevent or detect human error or mitigate patient harm from errors.


Judy Smetzer, BSN, RN, FISMP, Vice President, ISMP



This activity is supported by Novartis. 

CE Accreditation

No continuing education credits are available for this activity.


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