New technology in medical field has promise

For many New Jersey residents, being sick and in the hospital presents its own type of stress. Surgery, medications, x-rays and examinations can add to a patient’s anxiety. One way to help ease that anxiety is to take clear steps that ensure a patient receives the correct treatment.

Recently, a method was introduced at a children’s hospital to help minimize mistakes involving electronic patient charts. In most hospitals, when doctors alter a patient’s record and suggest a treatment, they do so digitally. Although this digital system has reduced human error, mistakes still happen, especially when doctors have more than one file on a screen at a time.

The children’s hospital is working to prevent these medical mistakes with a system that brings up a picture of the patient when a new treatment is prescribed. This requires doctors to connect the treatment to a face and recognize exactly what patient they are working with.

In 2010, the hospital had 12 mistakes where patients received the wrong treatment. After enacting the new photo technology, that number went down to three. Furthermore, those three mistakes involved patient records that did not have photos attached to them.

Although new technological advances such as this can greatly minimize accidents that happen in hospitals, mistakes can still occur. If patients receive the wrong treatments because their records were incorrectly altered, they can hold the responsible doctors accountable.

New technology does show promise to minimize treatment errors in both child and adult patients, but in the event of a mistake, knowing the right steps to take can help make that mistake much more manageable.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Can Patient Photos Help Cut Medical Errors?,” Amy Norton, June 4, 2012