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SAFE-FLOW : a systematic approach for safety analysis of clinical workflows

Al-Qora'n, Lamis Farah


Lamis Farah Al-Qora'n


Neil Andrew Gordon

Martin (Martin David) Walker


The increasing use of technology in delivering clinical services brings substantial benefits to the healthcare industry. At the same time, it introduces potential new complications to clinical workflows that generate new risks and hazards with the potential to affect patients’ safety. These workflows are safety critical and can have a damaging impact on all the involved parties if they fail.

Due to the large number of processes included in the delivery of a clinical service, it can be difficult to determine the individuals or the processes that are responsible for adverse events. Using methodological approaches and automated tools to carry out an analysis of the workflow can help in determining the origins of potential adverse events and consequently help in avoiding preventable errors. There is a scarcity of studies addressing this problem; this was a partial motivation for this thesis.

The main aim of the research is to demonstrate the potential value of computer science based dependability approaches to healthcare and in particular, the appropriateness and benefits of these dependability approaches to overall clinical workflows. A particular focus is to show that model-based safety analysis techniques can be usefully applied to such areas and then to evaluate this application.

This thesis develops the SAFE-FLOW approach for safety analysis of clinical workflows in order to establish the relevance of such application. SAFE-FLOW detailed steps and guidelines for its application are explained. Then, SAFE-FLOW is applied to a case study and is systematically evaluated. The proposed evaluation design provides a generic evaluation strategy that can be used to evaluate the adoption of safety analysis methods in healthcare.

It is concluded that safety of clinical workflows can be significantly improved by performing safety analysis on workflow models. The evaluation results show that SAFE-FLOW is feasible and it has the potential to provide various benefits; it provides a mechanism for a systematic identification of both adverse events and safeguards, which is helpful in terms of identifying the causes of possible adverse events before they happen and can assist in the design of workflows to avoid such occurrences. The clear definition of the workflow including its processes and tasks provides a valuable opportunity for formulation of safety improvement strategies.


Al-Qora'n, L. F. (2015). SAFE-FLOW : a systematic approach for safety analysis of clinical workflows. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Computer science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Computer Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 2015


Thesis (2.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Al-Qora'n, Lamis Farah. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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