There’s no doubt that information technology has helped the medical and healthcare communities greatly, but along with this technology comes the potential for injuries and even death. In fact, the Emergency Care Research Institute has recently released a new list of potential dangers that may be caused by IT errors in and around medical facilities, and this list outlines some key issues that IT professionals need to watch.
Because medical facilities often have alarms that are tied into central systems, improperly setting up or triggering an alarm may cause injuries. These injuries may occur due to a doctor being improperly notified of a patient’s worsening condition, or a doctor may not be notified at all when a patient is having health trouble. It’s important for the IT professional to monitor alarms and ensure that they are properly routed and tested on a regular basis.
Medical Device Interoperability
Another potential hazard may present itself due to interoperability issues between medical devices. During emergency situations, medical staff don’t have the time to call an IT support staff member if an interoperability issue presents itself, and devices that aren’t able to communicate properly with each other may lead to patient injuries and fatalities. IT staff are advised to always check interoperability between devices before any new device is put into service.
Although electronic health records have made it easier than ever for medical staff to review a patient’s medical history, if these records and their databases are not properly maintained, errors can occur. Unfortunately, errors, such as patient record mismatches, can lead to improper administration of medications, unnecessary procedures and more. It is vastly important for the IT professional to review electronic health record databases to ensure that they are being maintained and that they are accurate.
If an Issue Arises
If one of the aforementioned issues arises and causes an injury or death, the medical facility, IT staff, medical staff and more may be in for some legal trouble. Whether you ask the best injury lawyer in Charleston or in Washington, they will suggest that in cases where a patient has been harmed due to the failure of IT staff to properly maintain equipment and systems, the patient or his or her family members may sue the medical facility, and IT staff who were responsible may be named in the suit. If this happens, the injured party may recover hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Advice for the Injured
If someone has been injured due to mistakes made on the part of a healthcare IT staff member, they may want to consider partnering with a personal injury attorney for assistance. Additionally, if a loved one has passed away due to the failure of a medical facility’s IT department, the family members may still be entitled to seek compensation for their loss. A personal injury attorney will be able to review the case and give options that meet their unique needs.
In the area of medical safety, it is up to the IT professional to ensure that all equipment and systems are tested, organized and maintained. IT positions in other industries are not always a matter of life and death, but in the healthcare setting, they certainly can be. Although healthcare IT is still an evolving field, it must be always remembered that the fate and health of patients lies not only with the heath-care providers, but also in the hands of the technicians.