Mechanical ventilators are central to treating patients in intensive care units (ICUs), providing breathing support for patients who are debilitated and cannot breathe effectively. While ventilator technologies are life-saving, they are often designed without much consideration of the potential harm that the person operating the machine can have on the wellbeing of the patient. In a critical life-or-death moment, where not a second can be wasted, there is insufficient time to decipher between complex operating modes or the meanings of icons on a screen.
While usability testing is one of the most effective methods to identify use-related risks associated to medical devices, there is a lack of literature supporting the rigorous comparison of the usability of different medical devices on the market. Without this knowledge, it can be challenging for hospitals to understand which device is best suited for the safety of their patients and employees, as well as for manufacturers to learn best practices when designing the next generation of their product.