OBJECTIVE: We designed this study to evaluate the simplicity of the user interface in modern-generation mechanical ventilators. We hypothesized that different designs in the user interface could result in different rates of operational failures. SETTING: A laboratory in a tertiary teaching
hospital. DESIGN: Crossover design. SUBJECTS: Twenty-one medical resident physicians who did not possess operating experience with any of the selected ventilators. METHODS: Four modern mechanical ventilators were selected: Dräger Evita XL, Maquet Servo-i, Newport e500, and Puritan Bennett
840. Each subject was requested to perform 8 tasks on each ventilator. Two objective variables (the number of successfully completed tasks without operational failures and the operational time) and the overall subjective rating of the ease of use, measured with a 100-mm visual analog scale
were recorded. RESULTS: The total percentage of operational failures made for all subjects, for all tasks, was 23%. There were significant differences in the rates of operational failures and operational time among the 4 ventilators. Subjects made more operational failures in setting up the
ventilators and in making ventilator-setting changes than in reacting to alarms. The subjective feeling of the ease of use was also significantly different among the ventilators. CONCLUSION: The design of the user interface is relevant to the occurrence of operational failures. Our data indicate
that ventilator designers could optimize the user-interface design to reduce the operational failures; therefore, basic user interface should be standardized among the clinically used mechanical ventilators.