Medical errors cause significant mortality and morbidity each year. Although this problem has received national attention, including efforts to encourage patients to speak up about errors, very little work has actively involved patients in preventing, detecting, and recovering from these errors. Patients and their caregivers offer a distinctive perspective on the delivery of care that is rarely captured except through ad hoc dialogue with nursing staff and clinicians. Moreover, patients and caregivers experience cognitive, interpersonal, and system- level challenges that can affect their awareness of potential problems and inhibit their ability to communicate their concerns. Enhancing patients'and caregivers'access to and engagement with meaningful information can help address communication challenges that are often the root cause of many adverse events. Through this application, the investigators seek to understand the information support that hospitalized patients and their caregivers need to play this important safety role. The three aims for this project are to: (1) identify information that would increase patients'and their caregivers'situational awareness as well as enable them to recognize potential safety concerns, (2) identify opportunities to support inpatients and their caregivers in capturing and managing health information, concerns, questions, and customized care needs, (3) determine strategies to support active dialogue among patients, caregivers, and providers around safety-related concerns and the overall care experience. The research team will employ a mixed-methods approach that includes observations, interviews, surveys, and technology probes to develop a set of design requirements for helping patients and their caregivers obtain and track needed information for communicating their safety concerns. These requirements will support the health-care community in engaging patients as safeguards against medical errors and provide a vision for enhancing the overall patient experience using information technology.

Public Health Relevance

Hospitalized patients and their caregivers experience significant challenges with accessing, managing, and communicating information about their care. Our work will help understand and suggest solutions to address these information challenges and support patients and their caregivers in communicating with their clinicians, particularly regarding safety concerns. The results of our work will help enable the design of patient-centered information tools for the hospital environment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Health Care Technology and Decision Science (HTDS)
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Bernstein, Steve
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University of Washington
Computer Center
United States
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