Definitions of Error
Basic Tenets of Human Error
Human Factors Engineering
Human Performance
Types of Errors
Systems to Reduce Errors
Stroop Test
Swiss Cheese Model
Toxic Cascades
Lessons from Other Industries
Basic Safety Principles


This module is designed to give health professionals an understanding of human error and an opportunity to examine the structure and types of errors.

The module will address:

  1. The definition of error and its specific application to healthcare.
  2. The distinction between the human and system perspective in the analysis of error.
  3. How human factors engineering can help identify and resolve potential systems design problems.
  4. Ways to recognize and resolve potential “error traps” within your own work environment.
Click here if you’d like to see the full list of objectives.

The problem of error can be viewed from two perspectives: the human and the systems approach. Each approach has different models of error causality and management. This module will consider the differences in both approaches as they apply to methods of preventing mistakes in healthcare settings.

Module Authors
Barbara Gregory, MPH
Victoria S. Kaprielian, MD


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Patient safety module series used with permission from Duke University
Duke University 2002-2021