• Automated System to Prevent Medication Errors
  • April 12, 2018
  • Approximately 200,000 avoidable fatalities occur each year in U.S. hospitals. The 2016 Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Ratings revealed that 1,134 hospitals received a safety score of C or below. According to a recent report by the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine (AIPSQ), stronger focus on patient safety improvements could reduce half of all hospital-caused fatalities in low-rated hospitals. The President and CEO of Leapfrog Group called for all hospitals to make patient safety a top priority, stating that even A-rated hospitals are not perfectly safe.

    Real-Time Automated System Helps Prevent Medical Errors
    The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) has implemented a real-time automated system designed to identify medication errors. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recently reported that medication errors are often attributable to electronic health record documentation issues. Almost one-third of mistakes occur during the administration process, endangering the safety of patients who may receive the wrong medication.

    Between January and April 2017, physicians estimated that of the 10,104 medications administered, there were 116 medical administration errors (MAEs). Of these 116 medical errors, 72 percent would adversely affect patients, with 13 percent being substantial underdoses or overdoses. The new system detects MAEs with a sensitivity detection of 85.3 percent, compared to 4.3 percent for current practices. It has also proven to be helpful for detecting dosing errors, one of the most common MAEs made by clinicians. The system detected 100 percent of substantial underdose or overdose medical errors.

    According to the system’s developers, MAEs remain common in hospitals despite implementation of technology such as electronic health records and smart infusion pumps. One explanation may be alarm fatigue, which researchers say occurs when physicians receive large numbers of alerts throughout the day, leading them to potentially overlook vital notifications. The system is designed to mitigate this by providing real-time messaging that alarms users to potential patient safety concerns.

    New System Shows Promise Despite Present Limitations
    The system made 45 errors, some of which were attributable to clinician-documented feeding rates. In the future, researchers plan to feed information directly from smart infusion pumps. Another main reason for these errors is that the system’s natural language processing component failed to pick up on temporal expressions or communication referencing similar medication. Researchers say that this problem can be addressed by periodically incorporating new natural language expressions into the system’s learner module.

    The new system shows significant improvement over the systems currently in place, however CCHMC will engage in further evaluation before integrating it into clinical workflows. Then, its performance can be evaluated before it is implemented in clinical practice. The system’s developers predict that once the system is fully deployed, it will greatly mitigate medical errors among neonatal patients.

    South Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Represent Patients Harmed by Medical Error
    If you were injured because of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Medical errors occur when a medical professional prescribes the wrong medication, administers the wrong dosage of medication, mislabels medication, prescribes medication that the patient is allergic to or without consideration for other medications a patient is taking, or failing to inform the patient of the possible side effects of the medication. Contact the South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle medical malpractice claims from our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. To get started, contact us online or call us at 856-354-9444 today.