Patient safety

Project Goal

Generating design guidelines for safe user interfaces for medical devices that reduce the number of incidents (unintendedly) caused by health care workers

Research Question

Does a user interface for medical devices based on co- design significantly contribute to a reduced number of incidents compared to regular, existing interfaces?

Project Description

A large percentage of the reported incidents of human failure in health care are related to the design of medical devices. For example, an inadequate design can lead to mistakes in connecting tubes, programming mistakes when administering medication, or failure to recognize deterioration in the patient state. This project aims to develop guidelines for safe medical user interfaces that reduce the number of incidents. Of all medical equipment, most mistakes are made with infusion pumps, which is why the infusion pump serves as a case in this project.
First, conceptual user requirements were systematically collected via the literature, observations of current use, and interviews with users. Next, users prioritized the conceptual requirements, which served as an input for several concept user interfaces. These were paper prototyped and subsequently the working prototype was qualitatively evaluated. A large-scale experiment is being designed for autumn 2012 to test the interface concept in a realistic environment, including stress, pressure, and critical incidents. This experiment will also serve as a validation of the user requirements.


February 2011 - December 2013

Funded by

“Pieken in de Delta” - program Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation,
City & Province of Utrecht

Project team

Fenne Verhoeven
Anita Cremers
Dennis van den Berg (PDE graduate)


UMC Utrecht (Pontes Medical) TNO Human Factors ZuidZeven Graphic Design Healthcare workers from various Dutch hospitals


Explorer Conceptualize Prototype Evaluate