An investigation on task interruptions and the physical environment for human performance
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Many dangerous or tragic events such as airplane crashes and medical errors are often the result of human errors, and these errors are often the result of a professional worker being interrupted during a critical task. Although their impact can be serious, the ways that interruptions are affected by the physical environment have rarely been examined in the study of architecture. Therefore, this thesis investigates how the physical environment helps manage the interruptions by observing the process of medication administration by nurses in hospital units. Nurse shadowing observation data showed that the level of visibility of work areas in and around nurse stations significantly contributed to the number of interruptions initiated by others. Therefore, this thesis concludes that the physical environment affects interruption events and discusses the design implications of observation-based findings and the potential impact of the physical environment on major clinical errors. As for future directions for investigation, this thesis suggests that interruptions become a more prominent subject for consideration in architecture, and the physical environment as a subject for analyzing interruption and performance in human factors and health care.