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More Tech Advances in Medicine Also Means More Medical Error Risks

The widening use of technology in the health care sector has generally meant safer experiences for patients, but it also comes with a greater likelihood of errors related to these technologies.

Most of us have been to a doctor’s appointment recently where we’ve seen the doctor or nurse typing notes into a computer during the visit.  Electronic health records are now standard in American hospitals. However, staff and especially doctors have been vocal about how difficult these systems are to use. Doctors especially find that patient medical histories are sometimes not updated on the system, and this can cause any number of serious errors to occur. Oftentimes, these systems are full of unfixed bugs that fail to inform of potentially dangerous drug alerts or medication warnings.

The Institute of Safe Medication Providers recently released its most prevalent error list for 2019.  The results revealed that healthcare providers are now increasingly making mistakes by selecting the first option that pops up on their screens after typing in the first few letters of a medication’s name. This problem is even more severe on smaller screens, like those of a mobile phone or a tablet. Sometimes, the wrong medication is selected, leading to possibly grave consequences.

Electronic records are not the only source of potential medical error.  Thanks to technologies such as surgical staplers, surgeons find it easier and faster to quickly seal off blood vessels after these are cut. However, these surgical staplers are prone to malfunction, and may not fire properly which can cause serious bleeding.  In cases involving surgical staplers that fail to fire, the consequences have been potentially fatal .

Another common cause of tech-related errors, and one that has medical experts very concerned, is the threat of alarm fatigue. Alarms that are constantly monitoring patients and beeping to denote even slight changes in condition are now very popular in hospitals. This has unfortunately led to the development of a syndrome called “alarm fatigue.”   This is when nurses get used to the frequent beeping of the alarms, tune them out and fail to respond when there are serious alerts that require their attention. Frequent notifications have been found to be a possible cause of alarm fatigue which endangers patients and their safety.

Errors with automated dispensing cabinets are also being more frequently reported. The risk of unsafe overrides is ever present, and poses a potential threat to patient safety.

Overall, the use of technology in hospitals by heath care providers has been very beneficial to patients.  The hope is that we can expect patients to only become safer in the decades ahead as medical technologies advance. However, with every new technology that is introduced into the health care field, the risk of harm, especially that associated with human influences, is always very real.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a medication error, or any other sort of error by a health care provider such as a doctor, nurse or technician, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation for your losses.  You may qualify to recover damages that can include medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.  Call an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney at the Katz Law Firm, and discuss your options for a medical malpractice claim for damages. Initial consultations are free.