Connecticut residents may find it alarming to learn in this age of cutting edge technology and significant advances in medical care technologies that a recent survey found that healthcare providers, such as nurses, blamed the lack of interoperability between medical devices and electronic health records as one of the reasons for medical mistakes. Nearly 400,000 patients lose their life annually due to a medical mistake, and thousands more suffer serious complications due to those mistakes.
Interoperability is defined as the ability of various electronic systems, such as medical devices including infusion pumps, pulse oximeter and electronic health records, to be compatible with each other and work together. Medical practice relies heavily on technology. The national survey conducted by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute found that nearly 50 percent of the nurses who participated in the survey indicated that they were a witness to a medical error because of interoperability issues. Furthermore, about 60 percent stated that medical errors could be reduced if everything worked together.
For example, one nurse noted that when a patient is in the intensive care unit that patient may be attached to 10 or more devices which require close monitoring. Many times, because of interoperability issues between the numerous devices, nurses are required to manually enter information and it is at this point that errors can occur. Nurses who participated in the survey noted that it is burdensome to transcribe and enter the information by hand, and noted that the various devices do not communicate or share information with each other well.
Though recommendations to improve interoperability have been put forth and solutions to this problem are being explored to reduce the burden of medical errors, currently there is no good solution to the interoperability issues between medical devices and health records. Nurses agree that patient safety is being compromised.
Source: Healthcare IT News, “Nurses blame interoperability woes for medical errors,” Erin McCann, March 16, 2015