Through human factors engineering, closed claims databases, and research in simulation, we have learned a good deal about how humans work in our complex anesthesia environments. To keep our patients safe, we should apply our knowledge of human factors, cognitive load, and situational awareness to our workday. Here are some tips based on these concepts that we can apply to our own practice and teach others.

Cognitive load theory describes the process of acquiring new information and converting it to working memory (Med Teach 2014;36:371-84).

Situational awareness describes the process in dynamic systems of perceiving, comprehending, and acting on information (Anesthesiology 2017;127:326-37).

Tips for using the concepts of cognitive load and situational awareness to improve patient safety:

Understanding our human limitations and looking for ways to increase our cognitive abilities will help us and our trainees be more capable in the moment when we need to...

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