September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Exploring Visual Search as a Paradigm for Predicting Medication Errors
Author Affiliations
  • Nelson Roque
    Florida State University
  • Timothy Wright
    Florida State University
  • Walter Boot
    Florida State University
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 871. doi:
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      Nelson Roque, Timothy Wright, Walter Boot; Exploring Visual Search as a Paradigm for Predicting Medication Errors. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):871.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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According to the FDA, over a million injuries occur each year in the United States due to medication errors. Furthermore, medication management is considered an Instrumental Activity of Daily Living (IADL), and inability to manage one’s medications can threaten an individual’s independence. These errors occur for a number of reasons, including similar sounding/looking medication names and labels, but also due to pills that look extremely similar. We present initial work looking at whether a visual search paradigm might be used to help predict medication mix-ups. We extracted images of pills from the NIH’s Pillbox database, and observers were asked to search for a target pill among similar or dissimilar distractors. Set size was also manipulated (3, 6, 9 items). Results indicated that search slopes may serve as a sensitive and continuous measure of pill confusability. For example, two pills that were extremely similar in terms of color, shape, and size produced relatively steep search slopes (28 ms/item target present, 80ms/item absent), while two pills that were similar in shape and size, but different in color produced parallel search slopes (< 2 ms/item for present and absent conditions). In this case, neither target present nor absent conditions indicated a significant effect of set size (t(27) = -.22, p = .83 and t(27) = .59, p = .56, respectively). Overall, these results indicate potential for this paradigm to be used to study and predict medication errors, and future work will extend findings to take into account changes in acuity and color perception associated with advancing age by testing younger and older adults.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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