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Auto-medication devices fail, cause patients to suffer

The world is always changing; and in the past 20 years, this has meant an immense surge forward in our technological capabilities. One of the areas in which technology has had the biggest impact is in the medical industry. People are able to live longer, healthier lives nowadays thanks to vast improvements to medical machinery, equipment and procedures. Doctors are better trained; facilities are far more advanced; and as a result, patients here in Illinois (and all around the world) are enjoying better health.

One of the problems of this technological era when it comes to healthcare is the loss of people paying attention to critical aspects of patient care. For example, there are machines now that monitor every conceivable aspect of a patient’s body. These machines alert medical staffers when the situation gets dire; they record valuable data on a consistent basis; and they basically perform a lot of the functions that physicians and nurses used to do pretty regularly.

In terms of efficiency, this is a good thing; but in terms of technical glitches, it is a very bad thing.

An example of this comes from Pennsylvania, where the state just discovered that over the last decade, there have been hundreds of patients who have been affected by auto-medication devices that have malfunctioned or had the wrong settings. Only a few of these patients suffered severe consequences as a result; but the patients were either getting improper amounts of their medication, the wrong medication all together, or no medication at all. These medication errors could have been far worse — and they could happen anywhere.

A technical error can still qualify as medical malpractice, as it slips under the acceptable level of care.

Source: TribLIVE, “Errors in default settings of electronic medical record systems raise risks for patients,” Alex Nixon, Sept. 6, 2013


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