Lately, there has been a great deal of information posted on the Internet in regards to patient safety, especially as it relates to certain healthcare procedures. Members of the general medical community have been in a constant search for technology that can help to reduce costly and life threatening errors in the medical field.
There was one study, posted by The Journal of Patient Safety, which concluded that around 440,000 people lose their lives each year from completely preventable errors that occur in hospitals. In the United States alone, medical errors are the third leading cause of death. Therefore, there is a great need for safety and protection that patients can be assured that they will not cause any harm to themselves or their families simply by checking into the hospital, possibly even for just a minor procedure.
The Human Error Factor
Indeed, medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Many of these deaths are completely preventable and have been caused by an incomplete or inaccurate diagnosis and therefore, invalid treatment methods. Four out of every five adverse events in the healthcare industry can be attributed to human error. Many of these errors can also be attributed to poorly designed practices and processes as well as sub par or faulty systems.
Overall, healthcare in general has taken large strides toward providing a safer environment for patients over the last several years. For example, from 2010 2014 there were 87,000 fewer deaths in hospitals that could be directly related to safety issues. There is always room for improvement and overall, the healthcare industry is doing everything that it can to improve safety measures in hospitals and clinics.
It also can be difficult to persuade lower-level workers to implement these basic procedures in their day-to-day work. It may be helpful to utilize negotiation training for management to use so they can better understand how to teach and train employees on implementation and the importance of the safety procedures.
Medication Related Errors
One of the most common types of errors committed for patients who have been admitted to a hospital is medication related errors. One out of every 20 patients is somehow adversely affected by drugs each year. It has been stated that there is some type of medication error found in almost one half of all surgeries. This is according to research that was outlined and published last October by Massachusetts General Hospital. Neglecting to properly treat problems that are indicated by the vital signs of a patient, mistakes made in labeling medications and providing incorrect dosage are other things that have contributed to these poor healthcare safety outcomes.
In 2015, The Institute Of Medicine filed a report about improving diagnosis in the healthcare industry. Within this report, The Institute Of Medicine declared that on average, 10% of all hospital related adverse events were caused by diagnostic errors. In direct relation to this number, 10% of all patient deaths were also attributed to errors in diagnosis.
Solving The Problem Through Technology
There is one piece of healthcare technology that shows quite a bit of promise. PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) is a type of technology that is used for management, distribution and retrieval for long and short term storage of medical images, documents and reports. This is both a picture archiving as well as communication system that is mostly known for its imaging technology at economical prices and for providing the ability to quickly exchange information and pictures between doctors. It provides access to images from a variety of sources and types of machines.
Images and reports can be sent through this system digitally, which takes away the need to transport images through the mail and manually file reports and documents. For documents and reports, such as those that are in PDF form, they can also be sent digitally. The same goes for x-rays, CT scans and MRIs. All of this information is transmitted within a secured network within less than a second, in most cases.
The Four Major Components
*A Secure Network
When it comes to the intensive care unit of a hospital, patient care can be greatly improved through the use of this technology. Of course, there will be more studies done on the system as well as other types of technological advances and safety procedures for use in the healthcare field.
When it comes to implementing safety procedures, the medical industry needs to focus on diagnostic errors, medication related errors and of course, the human factor. With the rapid expanse of technological innovations coupled with due diligence, much-needed funding, and a never ceasing rate of attrition, the healthcare industry is on the right path when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of patients.
By: Dennis Hung