Seminars (1)

Human error is not the problem

Harold Thimbleby

University of Wales Swansea

Abstract : Error, if it was a disease, would be classified as the third biggest killer after cancer and heart disease. Why is it neglected, and what can be done? When something bad happens to a patient, then surely somebody must have done something bad? Although it’s a simple story, it’s usually quite wrong. This talk argues, with lots of surprising examples, that the correct view is you do not want to avoid error and you want to avoid patient harm. Drawing on human factors and computer science, this talk shows the astonishing ways that systems conspire to cause and hide the causes of error. We will then show that better design can reduce harm significantly. We explain why industry is reluctant to improve, and how new policies could help improve technology.

Bio: Prof Harold Thimbleby FIET CEng FRCPE FLSW HonFRSA HonFRCP has given over 500 invited talks in 30 different countries. He is an internationally respected computer scientist, with a particular interest in human error and healthcare IT. His research team won the 2014 GE Healthcare Award for Outstanding Impact in Healthcare. Has has been a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award holder and a Leverhulme Trust Fellow. He is an Expert Advisor on IT to the Royal College of Physicians. His MIT Press book Press On won several international prizes. His web site is

Date: 2017-Apr-07     Time: 10:00:00     Room: INESC-ID Tagus Park, sala 2.10