Using FRAM to explore sources of performance variability in intravenous infusion administration in ICU: A non-normative approach to systems contradictions

Dominic Furniss, D Nelson, I Habli, S White, M Elliott, N Reynolds, M Sujan
in Applied Ergonomics, Journal article


© 2020 Systems contradictions present challenges that need to be effectively managed, e.g. due to conflicting rules and advice, goal conflicts, and mismatches between demand and capacity. We apply FRAM (Functional Resonance Analysis Method) to intravenous infusion practices in an intensive care unit (ICU) to explore how tensions and contradictions are managed by people. A multi-disciplinary team including individuals from nursing, medical, pharmacy, safety, IT and human factors backgrounds contributed to this analysis. A FRAM model investigation resulting in seven functional areas are described. A tabular analysis highlights significant areas of performance variability, e.g. administering medication before a prescription, prioritising drugs, different degrees of double checking and using sites showing early signs of infection for intravenous access. Our FRAM analysis has been non-normative: performance variability is not necessarily wanted or unwanted, it is merely necessary where system contradictions cannot be easily resolved and so adaptive capacity is required to cope.