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Tech is a Game Changer in Reducing Medical Errors

August 13, 2018 No Comments

Featured article by Sally Writes, Independent Technology Author

prescription medications 300x172 Tech is a Game Changer in Reducing Medical Errors

Around 250,000 deaths per year occur due to medical errors, making them the third leading cause of mortality in the United States. The physical suffering, as well as the psychological and mental anguish caused by these unintentional acts, cost money and time. Luckily, with the advent of advanced technology, there are several ways that medical errors can be prevented to improve the outcomes of healthcare. By integrating technology in healthcare, on or off the operating table, the likelihood of errors and negligence is reduced substantially.

Prescription Errors Are Becoming Common

One of the most common reasons for malpractice lawsuits is medication errors. They can happen anywhere whether at home, clinics or hospital settings. Failure to prescribe the right medications at the right dosage, time and place can lead to unwanted side effects and even fatal consequences. Medical negligence or malpractice due to medication errors can lead to severe injuries, lifetime disabilities and unfortunately, deaths. Medication errors are also caused by failure of humans. Shortage of staff, lack of training and fatigue cause healthcare workers to make mistakes. In other cases, technical failures of machines also lead to injuries or deaths.

Better technologies are emerging to help address faults in prescribing and administering medications.  Building solid health information technology systems, including digitizing patient records for accessibility to the entire care management team, ensures that errors in medication delivery are reduced. In addition, a computerized physician-based ordering system such as the one used at LDS Hospital in Utah improves the safety of meds use. On top of this, electronic records are double-checked and fail-safe systems adopted. A monitoring system is in place to detect anomalies in patient records, prescriptions and delivery of medication while rigorous training of technicians who use machines to administer drugs is also implemented.

Objects Left Behind in Surgeries

Meds prescriptions are not the only serious issues affecting patient outcomes. There are one too many cases of ‘retained objects’ left inside a patient’s body after surgery.  It is not unheard of that surgical sponges can be forgotten inside a patient’s stomach causing infections, physical, mental and emotional anguish. So many cases have been filed by lawyers on behalf of patients who are victims of negligence or malpractice.

Fortunately, as technology gets better, the chances of lowering medical errors are greater. As an example, microchipped surgical sponges can reduce incidences of ‘retained objects’ after operations. These devices are trackable so it is easy to know where they are or if they are removed on time. Medtronic uses the Situate Detect System to detect sensors that are embedded in sponges while SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System by Stryker tracks and traces every medical sponge that is used. These technology systems can result in safer patient management and care reducing accidents by a huge margin.

Negligence or poor medical practices leading to malpractice litigations do happen. However, they can be avoided if the healthcare sector takes the necessary steps to improve patient outcomes. By using management information systems and tracking equipment with sensors, the common medical errors can be averted.

 

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , HEALTH IT, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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