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Studies look at IT errors in medical settings

In some hospitals, the biomedical and IT departments are not communicating as well as they could be, and that could lead to medical errors for patients in Illinois. According to one study, when hospitals work to improve communication between these departments, patient safety improves.

While networks at many companies can simply be patched or upgraded by IT as needed, this can be dangerous in hospitals if monitoring devices or other equipment is taken offline. Examples of failures that caused problems for devices or data sharing were noted in a study by the ECRI Institute. One was an incorrect data display on a fetal monitor. This could mean the change in a patient's condition is not promptly noted. Two others involved incomplete information being shared. A ventilator networked to a patient monitor did not display all the necessary information, and lab results shared to an electronic health record lacked lab values. By keeping one another consistently updated, biomedical and IT departments may be able to prevent these kinds of errors.

However, health care facilities may still have a long way to go. According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management, 64% of incidents involving patient safety and IT went unresolved. Among resolved issues, 45 percent were fixed with IT solutions.

IT-related errors could lead to a number of other mistakes, such as surgical errors. People who feel they or their loved ones have suffered as a result of IT failures may want to consult an attorney to discuss whether hospital negligence has occurred.

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