For my presentation I have researched into how the implementation of IT into our healthcare society can reduce medical errors by the introduction of electronic prescriptions, EMR’s, bar-coding, ADM’s and tablet pc’s. I aimed to do this by the researching traditional based methods compared to the advantages and disadvantages of these emerging technologies
Firstly traditional prescription is based on a doctor writing down a prescription for a patient. The patient is then responsible for bringing the prescription to a pharmacists, from there the pharmacist must give the patient the dosage indicated on the prescription paper. There is a number of areas where problems can occur with this process
With electronic prescription many of these problems can be avoided. For example the electronic prescription would be sent from the doctors to the pharmacists via the internet. This would cut out the possibility of the patient losing the prescription and the possibility of a transcription error. This is a big factor as nearly 80% of medical errors are due to transcription error.
According to some estimates almost 30% of prescriptions require pharmacy call backs thus wasting time the pharmacists could use educating the patient on their medication. Entering the prescription electronically saves the time spent transcribing it and can overall reduce errors by 40 – 60%
These computerised prescribing systems lower the risk of prescribing a patient medication they may be allergic too. Although the doctor should already be aware of this a slip of the mind could have serious consequences on the patient. The prescription van be simply inputted into the computer and an alert would signal if the prescription presented a risk.
Of course with this technology there are drawbacks such as if there was an electricity power outage the prescribing system could not be accessed. Doctors would have to be trained in how to use this system and yet errors can still occur by selecting the wrong patient or medication dosage and of course there is always the risk of hacking.
Recently more people are starting to use electronic medical records. EMR’s can reduce medical errors, save time and resources. For example if a patient with a heart condition has an underlying allergy to anaesthesia and is in sudden need of emergency surgery the EMR will flag the issue and the doctors will then be able to treat the patient accordingly.
Traditional medical records are made up of pages and pages of patient information which are easily perishable by fire or water damage and in most cases are rarely backed up. These files take up a lot of storage space and cannot be efficiently accessed in an emergency situation.
Errors can be made when transcribing what a doctor has written on a patient record and EMR’s can eliminate this difficulty. If a patient is over seas and suddenly becomes ill, the foreign doctor will be able to access the patients EMR treating them efficiently. Without the use of the EMR records would be faxed over causing numerous errors such as translation or delay
The disadvantages of EMR’s include the rick of hacking of personal data, start up costs can be quite steep, training would be necessary for physicians using the software and also some patients have found doctors visits to be depersonalised by the doctors engagement with the computer.
Bar coding is the process where a nurse administering drugs to a patient must first scan the patients wristband and then scan the medication. If the dose corresponds to the pharmacist approved order and the timing is correct, administration is automatically documented. This ensures medication is administered at the correct time.
Bar coding medications could potentially reduce drug administration errors by as much as 60%. It ensures the correct medication is given at the correct dosage, at the correct time to the correct patient. The car- coding strategy is highly reliable and avoids errors in administration of drugs, timing, dosage amounts and transcription
Nurses in a busy hospital can easily make the mistake of giving a patient their medication late. However bar-coding cuts out this error. I recently read an article about a nurse who committed suicide because she gave a fragile baby 1.4 grams instead of 140 milligrams of calcium chloride resulting in the baby's death. Bar-coding could have avoided this tragic incident.
There are few disadvantages to bar-coding such as a small glitch, a programming error or a complete system black out however since these are computerised systems they are all back up unlike if a fire incurred in a pharmacy where all paper based records would be destroyed.
Automated or Robotic dispensing machines are used to hold drugs at a location and dispense them only to a specific patient, they are used in conjunction with the bar-coding system. They can potentially cut out human error due to over and under dosage almost completley.
Disadvantages can occur if the machine suddenly stops working and there is no access to medication. Patients could be waiting hours before the machine is back up and running. Another disadvantage is that it results in a decrease of employment due to the fact there will be liss staff needed to administer drugs.
Tablet pc’s are portable and light. They contain everything a physician might need at their fingertips. A tablet pc can incorporate devices I previously mentioned such as electronic prescription, EMR’s and bar-coding. Doctors would be able to see MRI scans and x-rays via their tablet. Making the device a very time saving efficient tool.
A tablet pc contains all the advantages of electronic prescription, EMR’s and bar-coding where and error is flagged instantly. So with the pc containing all three it overall reduces time needed to retrieve lab results, x-rays and blood tests by them being sent straight to the physicians pc, which for some patients time is essential.
Implementing these systems into our healthcare society can be very costly for not just hardware but software required too. Training would also be a big factor as all staff would have to be familiar with the device. Similar to the disadvantages with EMR’s patients may find hospital visits depersonalised by the tablet pc.
Medical errors are unavoidable with or without IT but compared to traditional based methods IT can reduce medical errors by 50% and more. IT reduces these errors so greatly its hard to understand why the process is so slow to implement them. But hopefully in the future we will see more of these computerised systems in our hospitals. Thank you
How is information technology used to reduce the
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