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Evaluating team member perceptions can help guide future failure mode and effects analysis activities

Research Activities, November 2009

In order to address patient safety, health care organizations are using failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to define and eliminate failures from products and services. Most often, FMEA is used on high-risk patient care processes, including medication use, blood transfusions, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) safety. A new study suggests that evaluating perceptions of FMEA team member performance can improve the FMEA process and provide future guidance. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted structured interviews with members of two FMEA teams. One team was charged with implementing a new intravenous infusion pump, while the other team was asked to evaluate point-of-care bar code technology. Both teams resulted in 39 participants representing nurses, pharmacists, physicians, engineers, and others. Interviews were conducted 4 to 5 months after the pump team finished its work and toward the end of the bar code team's work. Based on the results of the interviews, the researchers identified several key findings related to FMEA team performance.

First, the process needs to be guided by a well-defined team objective. Administration and other leaders should demonstrate their support of the process and commit to using the team's findings to improve safety. It is also important that FMEA teams be multidisciplinary in nature with well-informed facilitators. Each member should have some knowledge about the technology being evaluated and the FMEA process. By evaluating the FMEA process through participant interviews, the answers obtained can help refine the process and lead to better team outcomes and satisfaction, conclude the researchers. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS14253). See “FMEA team performance in health care: A qualitative analysis of team member perceptions,” by Tosha B. Wetterneck, M.D., M.S., Ann Schoofs Hundt, Ph.D., and Pascale Carayon, Ph.D., in the June 2009 Journal of Patient Safety 5(2), pp. 102-108.

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Page last reviewed November 2009
Internet Citation: Evaluating team member perceptions can help guide future failure mode and effects analysis activities: Research Activities, November 2009. November 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.