Six Principles of Mistake Proofing Care


Facilitation is the process of making the operations easier to complete correctly. Facilitation includes levels of simplifying, differentiating, and adjusting as appropriate.

Simplifying is reducing the number of alternatives or variations of equipment in a repeated process. For example, having three different garden hose spray attachments which all mist plants equally well, but either work or attach differently is undue complexity. Select one to be the standard and remove the others; this is a simplification.

Differentiation creates a clear distinction between similar actions or items. Building on the garden hose example, you would want a different color or connection type for an attachment which performs a different function. A high pressure sprayer that should not be used on plants could be labeled in orange, while plant sprayers are marked in green. If you also had air hoses you would want a distinctly different attachment type so the air and water attachments could not be interchanged.

Adjusting is a method of changing some aspect of the process to eliminate the potential error. If we take this back to our hose example it may make sense to look at environmental variables:

  • Are people having difficulty finding the attachment they need?
  • Are the hoses laid out in a clear pattern so water hoses are in one place while air hoses are in another?

Establishing clear patterns and places where items are stored will reduce the variables. Informing people of the changes is also a form of adjustment and will reduce error.

Click on the images below for examples.


Thought Question:
Think of three (or more) ways facilitation may be used in a clinical setting. Try to come up with at least one for each of the three methods of facilitation: simplification, differentiation, and adjustment.


Index Previous Next

Questions about this website, please email: CFM_Webmaster@mc.duke.edu
© 2016 Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine. All Rights Reserved.