Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 04, 2022

Is Technology Helping or Hindering Medical Negligence Mortality Rates?

Is healthcare technology really as positive as it seems? We explore this question through discussing some of the positive and negative impacts tech is having on medical negligence mortality rates.

Technological advancements are increasingly changing the face of the healthcare industry, from basic monitoring and admin, all the way to surgical interventions that can improve accuracy in the operating theatre.

The aim of these advances is ultimately to streamline processes and reduce cases of fatal medical negligence claims across the board. That said, is this the case in reality, and are there any negative impacts of technologies being relied upon in the medical field?

In this article, we’ll be exploring the answers to this question by discussing some of the positive and negative impacts of technology on mortality rates. Take a look…

How Technology is Helping to Reduce Medical Negligence Mortality Rates

Starting with the positive ways in which technologies can help to reduce the chances of medical negligence, and therefore reducing mortality rates, some pointers include:

Simplified Procedures

Technological advances can help to simplify administration procedures throughout hospitals, which can avoid errors across the board. The most obvious example of this being used in practice is the centralisation of systems across countries. This can make processes easier, quicker and more accurate for both hospital staff and patients.

A more specific example of a technology that could help with this is iris scanning, which could help to accurately and quickly identify patients within facilities to avoid any mishaps.

Less Human Error

Human error is a big cause of negligence within the medical field, not just by doctors and nurses in the field, but even at the administration level. Medical filing and record keeping can lead to negligence errors, and the use of technology can help to avoid these sorts of mistakes.

Another human error issue which could be avoided is the loss of surgical equipment, like sponges, within bodily cavities during surgeries. There are manual methods of avoiding these mishaps, but technologies like electronic assistance could help to streamline this process, making things more efficient and reducing the chance of post-operative complications.

Reducing Medication Errors

According to research, “medication errors are frequent and… adverse drug events, or injuries due to drugs, occur more often than necessary”. The frequency of injuries related to medical examination or treatment far outweighs those from aeroplane and automobile crashes, which gain far more public attention. Overall, it’s said that between 28% and 56% of adverse drug events are preventable.

With the advent of advancements in medicinal technology, interventions involving information systems are proven to reduce errors when administering medication. Examples of technologies that are helping with this include:

  • Computerised physician order entry
  • Physician decision support from computers
  • Robots filling prescriptions
  • Bar codes
  • Automated dispensers
  • Medical administration of drugs via computers

Improving Accuracy

Surgical technologies are constantly improving to increase accuracy during surgeries. For example, augmented reality can offer more complete data within a surgeon’s field of vision. This can improve the safety of the patient, as well as their outcomes due to reducing the risk of postoperative complications.

Some ways these sorts of technology can do so, include increasing the accuracy of placing instruments during surgeries. Also, the surgeon’s eyes and hands can remain where they are, without such as risk of detrimental movement.

Dr Shin from Becker’s hospital said, “With conventional navigation and robotic platforms, a consistent limitation for the surgeon is having to take our eyes away from the field. This can have drawbacks, especially when passing instruments around neural and vascular structures where millimetres can make a difference. It is exciting to see how continued development will account for such limitations.”

Ongoing Record Keeping

Patient monitoring to understand the body both before and after any medical intervention may help to reduce misdiagnosis and malpractice, as well as improve post-operative care. Advances in technology available to the general public, like smart watches, which continually monitor a person’s health, may be instrumental in making this accessible to the masses.

Identify Malpractice

Cameras and CCTV footage throughout hospitals can help to identify medical malpractice. Some systems are advanced enough to keep an eye on the surgical team’s checklist, ensure the right patient is in the operating room, and the correct procedure is being carried out. Therefore, any issues can be spotted and rectified before further damage.

This can help to streamline the process, and ensure preventative measures can be put in place. It can also help to identify risk factors for medical negligence to avoid them happening before they are carried out.

How Technology is Increasing Medical Negligence Mortality Rates

As you can see, there are plenty of potential benefits of using technology to reduce the advent of medical negligence. But, what are some of the negative impacts? We’ll be exploring these next…

Over Reliance

Over reliance on technology has the risk of making hospital staff complacent. Once they’ve been through the rigorous education required to become a doctor or nurse, the reliance on technology once in the field may reduce skill and ability.

Of course, this is purely speculation, and we cannot know how each individual staff member may react to the technological help. However, this is a potential impact that should be considered.

Medical Negligence in Practice Will Always Continue

Medical technologies can limit the number of cases of negligence in terms of medication administration, hospital admin and more, but it can’t always help to avoid negligence in the field. For example, in emergency situations where the doctor’s judgement and education comes into play, human error may be more likely.

Common examples of this could emerge during childbirth, when emergency situations may arise, and decisions must be made quickly. Excessive force may be utilised in these situations, causing injuries to the mother and baby. These situations cannot easily be avoided through the use of technology.

Other Implications of Medical Technology

There are also a number of other negative implications of technology use in hospitals, which don’t necessarily affect mortality rates, but may impact hospital staff and patients. These may include:

  • Financial implications
  • Staff training
  • Limited scalability
  • Risks of contamination

Who’s the Blame if Medical Malpractice Occurs?

As you can see, there are plenty of positives to introducing more tech into the world of healthcare. However, there are some issues.

With the advancement of technology to intervene in potential cases of malpractice, when negligence does occur, it may become tricky to isolate the key problem within each individual situation. This can mean that patients have no clear pathway for blame, which may complicate matters of law.

It’s key that with these advancements comes strict record keeping which can help to isolate the causes of any incidences that do occur.

What do you think of the increasing use of technology in the healthcare industry? Do you think it’ll help or hinder mortality rates?


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