Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Adapting Cognitive Task Analysis to Investigate Clinical Decision Making and Medication Safety Incidents.

Russ AL, Militello LG, Glassman PA, Arthur KJ, Zillich AJ, Weiner M. Adapting Cognitive Task Analysis to Investigate Clinical Decision Making and Medication Safety Incidents. Journal of Patient Safety. 2019 Sep 1; 15(3):191-197.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVES: Cognitive task analysis (CTA) can yield valuable insights into healthcare professionals' cognition and inform system design to promote safe, quality care. Our objective was to adapt CTA-the critical decision method, specifically-to investigate patient safety incidents, overcome barriers to implementing this method, and facilitate more widespread use of cognitive task analysis in healthcare. METHODS: We adapted CTA to facilitate recruitment of healthcare professionals and developed a data collection tool to capture incidents as they occurred. We also leveraged the electronic health record (EHR) to expand data capture and used EHR-stimulated recall to aid reconstruction of safety incidents. We investigated 3 categories of medication-related incidents: adverse drug reactions, drug-drug interactions, and drug-disease interactions. Healthcare professionals submitted incidents, and a subset of incidents was selected for CTA. We analyzed several outcomes to characterize incident capture and completed CTA interviews. RESULTS: We captured 101 incidents. Eighty incidents (79%) met eligibility criteria. We completed 60 CTA interviews, 20 for each incident category. Capturing incidents before interviews allowed us to shorten the interview duration and reduced reliance on healthcare professionals' recall. Incorporating the EHR into CTA enriched data collection. CONCLUSIONS: The adapted CTA technique was successful in capturing specific categories of safety incidents. Our approach may be especially useful for investigating safety incidents that healthcare professionals "fix and forget." Our innovations to CTA are expected to expand the application of this method in healthcare and inform a wide range of studies on clinical decision making and patient safety.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.