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Medical Technology That Can Lead to Medical Errors

Technology can play a part in medical errors that harm patients. A top patient safety organization has identified this year’s top healthcare technology threats to patient safety.

Many serious medical errors are preventable, caused by a wrong action or a lack of action by healthcare providers. Healthcare provider actions or inactions that deviate from a standard level of care can be the subject of medical malpractice lawsuits.

ECRI is a non-profit organization that focuses on protecting patients from what it calls “unsafe and ineffective medical technologies and practices.” It recently released a list of unsafe medical devices and technology issues that can lead to serious medical mistakes.

Preventable Medical Technology Mistakes

ECRI says its “Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2022” is designed to educate healthcare facilities about the safe use of medical technology. It cautions that every potential error cited on the list is preventable.

The criteria used for placing a medical technology error on the 2022 list included:

·         The likelihood that the danger could cause a patient serious injury or death

·         How often or likely the danger occurs

·         How widespread the danger is among healthcare facilities

·         How preventable is the danger

Cybersecurity is a sizeable threat, for business and healthcare.  ECRI places cybersecurity at the top of its health technology danger list.

Hospitals have been victims of ransomware attacks. Hackers shut down hospital computer operations until a ransom is paid. ECRI notes that computer hacking also can threaten hospital patient safety by, for example, shutting down certain care units.

ECRI says cybersecurity threats can be prevented or minimized by proper hospital administration planning.

Medication Errors from Improper Use of Medical Devices

Medication errors are among the most dangerous types of preventable medical mistakes. These include:

·         Wrong drug given to the patient

·         Medication given to the wrong patient

·         Medication given in wrong dosage

ECRI includes damaged infusion pumps – medical devices used to administer medications into a patient’s body in a controlled manner – on its 2022 medical technology hazards list. Defective infusion pumps can lead to fatal drug administration errors, according to the organization.

Healthcare staff should be trained to look for signs of infusion pump damage, as well as how to respond to any resulting medication errors and patient harm.

Syringe pumps are like infusion pumps, are used to administer drugs in smaller volumes, at slower rates, and with greater precision. A failure to use syringe pumps correctly is also on ECRI’s list.

With a syringe pump’s slower administration rate, there can be a long lead time between when the medication is given and patient response.  When healthcare providers don’t factor this in, the dosage could be dangerously increased.

Healthcare technology often improves patient outcomes.  But when healthcare providers use medical devices improperly, medical errors can result that critically and needlessly injure patients.

If you believe you or a loved one was the victim of serious error during medical treatment, consult a personal injury lawyer about conducting a detailed medical malpractice investigation on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog January 24, 2022