A devoted patient safety advocate, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Pascale Carayon is driven to help healthcare professionals and organizations reduce medical errors.
An estimated 100,000 deaths occur every year in the United States due to medical error at a cost of nearly $30 billion. As an expert in human factors engineering and director of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement (CQPI), Carayon has studied error and its causes in a variety of healthcare settings, such as outpatient surgery, intensive care units, information technology, medical devices, medication administration, and working environment for healthcare professionals.
One hallmark of Carayon’s research is her dedication to collaboration. In her healthcare-related projects, she partners with professionals in the area of interest to gain a complete understanding of the contributing factors. “Carayon is a leader and a mentor to those that work with her,” says a colleague. “A true collaborator, she seeks out all of the voices and values all perspectives: physicians, nurses, technicians, unit clerks, information technology specialists and administrators”.
Carayon offers her expertise as an engineer to the healthcare professionals with whom she works, including editing and publishing the Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety, now the standard text on the application of human factors engineering to patient safety. As a result of her input, healthcare providers can practically apply concepts of human factors engineering to patient care situations, such as improving patient flow in ambulatory surgery centers or assessing the usability of computerized provider order entry systems.
Carayon not only has pursued research opportunities within healthcare but also has volunteered with local, national and international organizations to help reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. Among these activities, Carayon is a member of the Madison Patient Safety Collaborative—the only member not to be affiliated with a healthcare organization. With colleagues in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, CQPI, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the School of Nursing, and the School of Pharmacy, she developed the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and designed a short course on human factors engineering and patient safety that has become an annual event for healthcare quality and patient safety administrators across the country.