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Telehealth shows big potential to reduce medical mistakes

Health care providers in Illinois, especially at emergency rooms, continually face challenges when collecting information from patients about their medications and medical conditions. Ideally, emergency departments have a pharmacist who can interview incoming patients and alert other medical staff members to medication use and potential side effects. To improve access to pharmacists, one hospital experimented with a telemedicine system.

The hospital had been experiencing a medication error rate of about 70 percent in the emergency department. Upon adding a telehealth platform, the hospital could connect incoming patients to video consultations with pharmacists, who could then provide advice about managing medication. This reduced wait times for pharmaceutical consultations since a pharmacist could always be available remotely.

The pharmacist's report could then be used by all staff members at the hospital instead of requiring a patient to inform multiple parties repeatedly about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Error rates dropped as a result.

Medication management from a pharmacist on a video platform produced improvement because hospitals struggle to gather accurate patient information. Despite the advent of electronic health records, different medical facilities and doctors' offices lack a system for communicating with each other effectively. Gaps in patient medication often lead to medication errors that could cause harm through harmful side effects or allergic reactions.

When a person experiences an adverse drug event, hospital negligence is sometimes the source of the problem. A victim could talk to an attorney about holding a health care provider responsible for financial damages. An attorney familiar with medical malpractice could gather evidence by consulting an outside medical expert. If evidence shows that health care providers failed to meet accepted standards of care, then medical negligence might have occurred. A lawyer could file court documents and pursue a settlement for the victim.

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