MISSION: To Support, Improve, and Develop Human Performance in Surgery.


The ultimate goal of the research we do is to enhance patient safety through rigorous evidence-based research. We strive to reach this goal by addressing medical error through human factors and computer vision approaches. Like all humans, members of the surgical team are fallible and susceptible to errors, especially when their cognitive status is compromised by an ambiguous, uncertain, high-risk, and high-stress task and environment. When cognitive capacity is exceeded and a state of cognitive overload is experienced by members of the surgical team, intraoperative performance can begin to suffer (see Figure 2, and feel free to click on the image to be redirected to some of our published work in this area). Poor patient outcomes are more likely to result as cognitive resources become more and more depleted, negatively influencing our ability to make decisions, recall critical information, and work cohesively with our team.Inverted U-shaped curve displaying the relationship between performance and cognitive workload

However, intervening at appropriate times, and in a way that is most conducive to cognition, can help prevent or restore medical errors. Our interest is in developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions geared towards facilitating cognition and teamwork. One way of accomplishing this mission is to take advantage of robust and constantly evolving technology and interface design possibilities.

Our approach is multi-faceted. We record live surgeries to analyze and learn more about the interactions between technical skills, non-technical skills, and psychophysiological markers. This means using clinical best-practice guidelines to analyze technical skills, using well-established behavioral marker taxonomies to classify non-technical skills, and equipping surgical team members with physiological sensors during live surgeries. The knowledge gained from this process goes on to inform key intervention components. While establishing and refining interventions, we take advantage of the growing field of high-fidelity simulation. This environment serves the purpose of replicating the realism of the operating room, while simultaneously providing a safe setting to practice clinical scenarios built around error recognition and recovery.

Medical error today is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Tackling this problem requires an interdisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians spanning specialties and expertise. We step up to the challenges created in the unique environment of healthcare with a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach. Our team involves cardiac surgery team members (surgeons, anesthesiologists, perfusionists, and nurses), human factors experts, computer scientists, and psychophysiologists, all of whom are actively engaged in the lab’s research and shared mission towards enhancing patient safety. Navigate throughout our site to learn more about the people involved in this work!