New publication: Reviewing the anaesthesia alarm problem

Dear readers,

I have not been a very active blogger the last month, and I hope to be able to have time to post updates more often during the rest of the autumn (well, spring for my Braziliand and Aussie readers :) ).

I would like to point you towards a new publication at my publications page! It is a literature review article that was published yesterday in the journal Ergonomics. This literature review article is based on the literature review that Karen Raymer, an anaesthesiologist and master student in the Master Program of Human Factors and Systems Safety, conducted for her thesis work. The article which we now have published is so to speak the argument which did set the stage for her empirical work (which I hope that we will also get published at a later stage).

In this review article different theoretical perspectives (including Signal Detection Theory, Joint Cognitive Systems Theory, concepts of data overload and coordination) are introduced in order to shed light on the problem of designing alarms for anaesthetic care. The conclusion is basically an argument for a more elaborate theoretical understanding of joint cognitive performance in the design of alarm functions; an understanding that until now has been compromised by other goals, such as the goal of 'never missing a hit'. In her study Karen also draw out the foundations for such a theoretical understanding.

I worked as one of Karen's supervisors throughout Karen's thesis work and in my opinion she produced a delicate little thesis. Anyone interested in understanding human-machine interaction in general, and in healthcare in particular, should check tout this article - and wait with excitement for her second, empirical article, in which she studies what the perception that the machine has of the human operator.

The anaesthesiologist working her monitor. Picture googled and completely stolen without any permission. Just let me know any concerns and I will take it away.


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