Diagnostic errors in hospitals are a major problem, even in the best hospitals in the world. These errors are more common than surgical mistakes, and they have severe outcomes for the patient. The consequence of a misdiagnosis is that the patient will have:
- Prolonged pain
- Conditions that are allowed to worsen
- Medications that don’t work
Patients suffer when diagnostic errors occur, and in the United States alone, it’s estimated that 80,000 – 160,000 lives are lost due to diagnostic errors.
There are new technologies all geared towards improving the lives of patients, reducing errors and making hospitals safer overall.
Artificial Intelligence May Help
John Hopkins University found that medical errors are so expansive that they’re the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Artificial intelligence may be the key to reducing these errors.
Advanced computer systems and tools can compare the data of patients, cross-checking their systems and conditions with others, to be able to determine the patient’s underlying condition.
While some of these systems are being tested, others already exist that are helping doctors manage all of a patient’s information in a meaningful manner.
Amazon’s Comprehend Medical is one system that uses natural language processing to make sense of all of the fast notes that doctors today. This allows for the system to extract information from text that isn’t structured.
The information is then presented, quickly and accurately to identify complex medical information and provide some context, too.
Interoperable Electronic Health Records (EHR)
Electronic health records, EHR, are shown to reduce medical and diagnosis errors, but hospitals are still struggling to leverage this technology to its fullest potential. The issue is that a lot of providers and facilities maintain these records, but there’s a lack of interoperable function.
EHR vendors and IT professionals are working on making this information easier to share with medical professionals.
The goal is to allow for a quick, safe transfer of this information among hospitals so that the patient receives the best care possible.
Medication dispensing is another issue facing hospitals, which are often understaffed. When a doctor writes a prescription, the pharmacist may not catch an error or realize that there is an adverse side effect that may impact the patient due to another medication in the person’s system.
eMar and bar code technology have the potential to reduce medication mistakes and reduce medical errors.
Barcode technology and eMAR systems show just a glimpse of what technology can do for patients. When these systems are in place, they allow for a form of cross-checking medication. The records will:
- Track medications patients are already receiving
- Dosages prescribed to patients
- When medication has been dispensed to the patient
Wristbands are outfitted with barcodes, and the nurse will scam the barcode prior to administering the medication to the patient. The scanner will even be able to determine if the patient is receiving the right medication.
Systems are also available that alert nurses when medication is supposed to be administered so that the patient never misses a dosage along the way.