Human error in medical institutions is indeed a risky endeavor that has potentially deadly consequences. Unfortunately, it is a far more common occurrence within the healthcare industry than people realize. It is estimated that each year, more than 200,000 avoidable deaths happen in U.S. medical institutions. To put that into perspective, that makes it the country’s third-highest cause of death overall, ahead of the likes of strokes, diabetes, the flu and pneumonia. When we consider this staggering fact, fixing problems associated with human error should be categorized in the same priority as the illnesses mentioned above.
In recent years, technologists have focused their attention on solving human error in healthcare by developing innovative products that are designed to eradicate human errors related to health risks, such as hospital-acquired infections, injuries that occur while transferring patients to new beds and misplaced or incorrect medications.
Let’s look at some of the promising automated technologies that are dedicated to improving safety in hospitals. Using these smart tools, healthcare professionals can significantly decrease the number of deaths related to medical or human error.
1. Halting the spread of hospital-acquired infections
It is estimated that 1 in 25 hospitalized patients gets a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) on any given day. Such infections can have deadly consequences due to their built-up resistance to antibiotics. To combat this problem, researchers from Abu Dhabi University have created an autonomous system that uses radio frequencies and ultrasound waves. When the tool is worn by medical staff, it communicates with an online database to activate an alarm when they get close to an HAI-infected patient. This allows medical staff to have a tangible method of keeping invisible infections as HAIs contained.
2. Increasing overall operational efficiency while freeing up staff to be more productive
The innovation of an autonomous delivery tool has been implemented in several Asian hospitals over the past few years. It facilitates the delivery of fragile and unwieldy medicines and medical specimens anywhere in the medical institution. It is also ID-enabled to provide added safety and prevent medicines from being tampered with or changed without proper authority. Using this autonomous robot, elder and less agile medical staff can avoid moving medication from one end of the hospital to the other and allows them to increase productivity by focusing their efforts on interacting with patients and freeing them up to make more valued contributions.
3. Avoiding the chances of injury or making a patient’s condition worse when transporting from one bed to another
In a medical institution, patients are often moved to beds of different sizes and functions on an average of seven times throughout their hospital stay. Each change increases the chances of injury to the patient, especially in scenarios where the patient is recovering from precarious issues like a head injury. The development of a new autonomous hospital bed is looking to address this issue. The bed is capable of ‘driving’ itself and follows behind a staff member without needing them to push, pull or direct it. It also features several added capabilities like a CPR mode that lowers the bed on voice command
In the same way that self-driving cars could potentially eradicate human error from driving on the road, autonomous hospital beds can play a major role in reducing the risk, death or injury that can happen as a result of human error on the part of the hospital staff.
Although these technologies still have a long way to go, they have been instrumental in paving the way for similar innovative technologies that address human error. When human error is taken out of the equation in a medical setting, the level of care provided increases as well as patient outcomes overall.