There’s no denying that medical devices have made life safer and healthier for many of us. The devices accomplish a number of invaluable functions and have become more sophisticated with each passing year. However, many are still not designed to share data with other devices in the environment, requiring nurses and other healthcare personnel to manually enter the data into the devices and electronic medical records. That extra step in documentation increases the risk of medical errors.
In a new study of nurses, an overwhelming majority of them admitted that they believed medical errors could be reduced significantly if devices were made to communicate with one another. As many as 74% of the nurses in the study believed that it was extremely burdensome for them to manually coordinate data from these devices. About half of the nurses admitted that they have personally seen medical errors occurring because of this lack of device interoperability.
Any discussion of medical errors, especially the thousands of medical errors that occur every year causing serious injuries, little attention is paid to the role that medical devices play in such injuries. In the study titled Missed Connections: A Nurses Survey on Interoperability and Improved Patient Care, nurses admitted that they spend far too much of their time, fiddling with medical devices.
Many of the nurses said that they were required to spend as many as three hours every shift handling the devices. During these times they use devices at the patient’s bedside, go through electronic medical records, transcribe data, explain the use of medical devices to patient’s families, and other functions. In fact, transcribing data was described as one of the most labor-intensive jobs for nurses, taking too much time away from the nurses, leaving them with not enough time to care for the patient.
As many as 91% of the nurses said that they would have more time to spend personally with patients if they did not have to work so much with these devices. 60% of them believed that interoperability of the devices could lead to significant reduction in the risk of medical errors. The surveyors are calling upon the Food and Drug Administration, to issue guidance on interoperability of medical devices.
If you have suffered an injury in a hospital, speak with a medical malpractice attorney at our firm.