Home | Clinical Practice | Paper explores human factor in failures to spot problems

Paper explores human factor in failures to spot problems

Before you read this article, watch the video above.

Watched it? Perfect. Now, were you one of the viewers so focused on counting passes that you didn't notice the gorilla?

If you didn’t spot the person in a gorilla suit strolling across the screen midway through the challenge, you may be able to put the oversight down to inattentional blindness.

Deakin University researcher professor Megan-Jane Johnstone and PhD researcher Angela Jones posit that the phenomenon might also be the root cause of some failures to recognise and act upon signs of clinical deterioration.

Their paper, "Inattentional Blindness and Failures to Rescue the Deteriorating Patient in Critical Care, Emergency and Perioperative Settings: Four case scenarios", published in the journal Australian Critical Care, defines inattentional blindness as the failure to see things that are in plain sight because they are unexpected.

“Failure to identify and respond to clinical deterioration is an important measure of patient safety, hospital performance and quality of care,” the paper stated. “Although studies have identified the role of patient, system and human factors in [failures to rescue], the role of inattentional blindness as a possible contributing factor has been overlooked.”

The research aimed to explore the nature and possible patient safety implications of inattentional blindness across three nursing contexts.

Jones conducted in-depth interviews with critical care, emergency and perioperative nurses. The team then considered four case scenarios and found they raise the possibility that inattentional blindness is a salient but overlooked human factor in failures to rescue across the critical care spectrum.

Nursing Review sat down with Johnstone, who is chair in nursing at Deakin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, to discuss the ways inattentional blindness may affect patient care and the factors that contribute to its prevalence.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *