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Human reliability analysis (HRA) techniques and observational clinical HRA

Human reliability analysis (HRA) techniques and observational clinical HRA

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  • Alfred Cuschieri
  • B. Tang

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-17
Number of pages6
JournalMinimally Invasive Therapy and Allied Technologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


This review explains the nature of human reliability analysis (HRA) methods developed and used for predicting safety in high-risk human activities. HRA techniques have evolved over the years and have become less subjective as a result of inclusion of (i) cognitive factors in the man-machine interface and (ii) high and low dependency levels between human failure events (HFEs). All however remain probabilistic in the assessment of safety. In the translation of these techniques, developed for assessment of safety of high-risk industries (nuclear, aerospace etc.) where catastrophic failures from the man-machine complex interface are fortunately rare, to the clinical operative surgery (with its high incidence of human errors), the system loses subjectivity since the documentation of HFEs can be assessed and studied prospectively on the basis of an objective data capture of errors enacted during a defined clinical activity. The observational clinical-HRA (OC-HRA) was developed specifically for this purpose, initially for laparoscopic general surgery. It has however been used by other surgical specialties. OC-HRA has the additional merit of objective determination of the proficiency of a surgeon in executing specific interventions and is adaptable to the evaluation of safety and proficiency in clinical activities within the preoperative and postoperative periods.



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