Article: Volume 43 Number 7 Page 688 - September 2016

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  Dent Update 2016; 43: 688-695

Patient Safety/Service Quality:  Human Factors and Ergonomics for the Dental Profession

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Abstract: This paper proposes that the science of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) is suitable for wide application in dental education, training and practice to improve safety, quality and efficiency. Three areas of interest are highlighted. First it is proposed that individual and team Non-Technical Skills (NTS), such as communication, leadership and stress management can improve error rates and efficiency of procedures. Secondly, in a physically and technically challenging environment, staff can benefit from ergonomic principles which examine design in supporting safe work. Finally, examination of organizational human factors can help anticipate stressors and plan for flexible responses to multiple, variable demands, and fluctuating resources.

Clinical relevance: HFE is an evidence-based approach to reducing error rates and procedural complications, and avoiding problems associated with stress and fatigue. Improved teamwork and organizational planning and efficiency can impact directly on patient outcomes.

Author notes: Al Ross, CErgHF, CPsychol, FRSPH, FHEA, AFBPsS, PhD, MSc, PGDip, BSc, Lecturer in Behavioural Science, University of Glasgow Dental School, 378 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JZ, UK, (

Objective: To understand the relevance of the applied science of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) for dental education, practice and training.