Reducing failures in daily medical practice: Healthcare failure mode and effect analysis combined with computer simulation

A. G. Leeftink*, J. Visser, J. M. de Laat, N. T.M. van der Meij, J. B.H. Vos, G. D. Valk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


This study proposes a risk analysis approach for complex healthcare processes that combines qualitative and quantitative methods to improve patient safety. We combine Healthcare Failure Mode and Effect Analysis with Computer Simulation (HFMEA-CS), to overcome widely recognised HFMEA drawbacks regarding the reproducibility and validity of the outcomes due to human interpretation, and show the application of this methodology in a complex healthcare setting. HFMEA-CS is applied to analyse drug adherence performance in the surgical admission to discharge process of pheochromocytoma patients. The multidisciplinary team identified and scored the failure modes, and the simulation model supported in prioritisation of failure modes, uncovered dependencies between failure modes, and predicted the impact of measures on system behaviour. The results show that drug adherence, defined as the percentage of required drugs received at the right time, can be significantly improved with 12%, to reach a drug adherence of 99%. We conclude that HFMEA-CS is both a viable and effective risk analysis approach, combining strengths of expert opinion and quantitative analysis, for analysing human-system interactions in socio-technical systems. Practitioner summary: We propose combining Healthcare Failure Mode and Effects Analysis with Computer Simulation (HFMEA-CS) for prospective risk analysis of complex and potentially harmful processes, to prevent critical incidents from occurring. HFMEA-CS combines expert opinions with quantitative analyses, such that the results are more reliable, reproducible, and fitting for complex healthcare settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1332
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Early online date3 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Patient safety
  • risk assessment and management
  • system failure modelling
  • system performance modelling
  • human reliability

Cite this