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Do Multiple Medical Devices Cause Medical Errors?

Health care technology has improved markedly through the years. But is today’s current state of technology actually increasing the number of medical errors? Nurses – who are on the frontline of medical care – seem to think so.

Over 500 full-time registered nurses recently participated in a survey funded by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, an independent, nonprofit medical research organization.The online survey asked the nurses to gauge their experiences with today’s medical devices, such as defibrillators, ventilators, and electrocardiographs.

In addition to these medical devices, a key to a patient’s care is his or her electronic health record (EHR). An EHR replaces paper records and is supposed to contain every important data point in the health care delivery process, including information provided by medical devices.

According to the nurses surveyed, a literal disconnect between the medical devices themselves and EHRs causes medical mistakes. Many of today’s medical devices aren’t set up to communicate with each other, meaning nurses often must gather and enter feedback from the various devices into a patient’s EHR by hand, which can lead to errors.

Nurses Have Seen Medical Errors Due to Medical Devices

The survey found that:

  • 93 percent of the nurses said that medical devices should be “interoperable” – coordinated so they’re able to automatically share their information with one another
  • 50 percent of the nurses witnessed a medical error due to medical devices not being coordinated
  • 49 percent said that delay of getting important information to the rest of a patient’s medical team is extremely or very likely due to the time spent manually transcribing the medical device feedback
  • 46 percent said an error is extremely or very likely to happen when medical device information must be entered manually into a patient’s EHR
  • 60 percent of the nurses thought that medical mistakes could be cut significantly if all medical devices were interoperable

Medication Errors and Misdiagnoses

According to the study, making medical devices interoperable could greatly reduce a number of typical medical mistakes, including:

To illustrate, the researchers say that a doctor lacking the most up-to-date information may prescribe the wrong medicine or, if the correct medicine is prescribed, it may be entered incorrectly by hand into a patient’s EHR.

The reasons for medical mistakes are not always easy to identify. When a patient’s treatment involves numerous medical devices and caretakers, the task can be that more challenging. Therefore, if you believe a loved one died or was catastrophically injured due to a medical error, contact an attorney who conducts medical malpractice investigations to review your case.

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