Color-coded medical observation charts prevent cognitive overload

Intervention · Public Health

Overcoming perception problems in a hospital setting

Intervention Description

One problem in hospitals is the failure to recognize when patients are deteriorating or in critical condition. This results in adverse effects on patients and even deaths. These failures occur due to cognitive overload limiting the ability of hospital workers to perceive problems. To assuage this problem, a regional government in Australia implemented a program designed to reduce these types of mistakes. This program was multifaceted, and included a variety of standardized rating systems and policies. The most notable aspect was a color-coded chart based on inputs about the patient. This chart, which gave patients in worse conditions colors like yellow and red, made patient deterioration more obvious. This made perception of problems of easier, so health workers made fewer mistakes. This program resulted in a 25% decrease in cardiac arrests.


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