Technology in Medical Error Prevention

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Elizabeth had filed a lawsuit against a popular health care center in Merthyr that was responsible for her son’s death due to misdiagnosed meningitis on 7 July 2014. The inquest is in progress for compensatory damages due to negligence in medical care.

Yes, there are numerous circumstances in the healthcare setting that give abundant scope for such errors. These include errors that occur at every point of clinical examination, diagnosis and treatment.

It is of course scary to sense that simple dislocation and subsequent confusion in case history sheets, erroneous prescriptions, mistaken blood transfusions, faulty medical procedures, defective medical equipments, poor infection control protocols and wrong diagnosis in a health care setting can lead someone to the grave.

Providentially, numerous technological medical applications are in place today to negate these errors and safeguard patients’ welfare and hence, there is far less scope for panic and in fact, more obligation on precaution.

For instance, electronic medical records have replaced the manual case history sheets of the past and facilitate access of patient data by healthcare professionals at any given location. These electronic medical sheets also permit verification of drug dosage, allergy reactions and laboratory reports stamping out errors due to case history sheets. Everyone would accept the fact that there are not many who can read a physician’s prescription at ease. Electronic prescription systems in medical practice have annulled prescription errors effectively.

Diagnostic errors are far more fatal than the diseases themselves. Automatic cancer detection tools and infection detection kits are advanced technological life-saving medical applications widely used today to steer clear of medical errors in diagnosis. ThinPrep Processor Model 2000, PAPNET and AutoPap 300 QC are technological tools useful in the detection of cervical cancer in women. Automated HIV and Hepatitis detection tools deserve a mention.

A patient identification system based on bar code technology involving a hand-held computer has rendered blood sample collection, testing and subsequent blood transfusion safer.

The very thought of remaining in an operation theatre is frightening and so is even a mention of an ICU. The operation theatre and ICU in a healthcare setting are high-tension zones that pose a relentless challenge to the medical fraternity. Operation theatre management applications today not only automatically record the patient information, demographic data, history of the physician visits, time, dates and past medical interventions, but also record data on the performing surgeon, service providers, patient status, type, severity and risks of the medical procedures for future reference. These automated theatre managers also assist the regulation of patient supplies with entailed refill lists, scrutinize and track the list of medical items employed during surgical procedures.

Technological inventiveness has found its way into dressing of wounds too. A novel nanocrystalline silver dressing, non-adherent polyester dressing and activated polyacrylate dressing prevents infections more effectively, facilitating faster wound healing.

Thus, technological innovations serve to bridge the gap between the available medico-scientific inventions and actual clinical practice thereby, reducing medical errors.