Technology has been improving and saving lives for generations, but technology also brings some unexpected hazards. In hospitals, technology can be a patient’s best friend — or worst nightmare.
It’s estimated that 400,000 hospital patients a year die of utterly preventable problems, and technology plays a surprising role in many of those deaths. Often, the problems with technology can be summed up as “too much of a good thing.”
Here are some major technology-related dangers you can face in a hospital as a patient:
You press a button to call for assistance from a nurse and nobody comes. It’s a frustrating event if you need help to get to the bathroom or something similar. It’s a devastating problem if, for example, your heart monitor goes off because you’re having a heart attack and nobody responds. The constant din of electronic noises designed to alert hospital staff members to a problem starts to fade into the background for many medical workers. They aren’t ignoring the alerts — they just no longer actively hear them.
Hacks and malware
These days, everything from your refrigerator to your pacemaker is probably connected to the Internet of Things. It’s no big deal if someone hacks your refrigerator. On the other hand, any type of electronic interference with your pacemaker could be a huge problem. Your medical records could also literally be held hostage by hackers for ransom — it’s already happened to some hospitals.
What’s technology got to do with your medication? Everything. A Tennessee patient recently died because a nurse typed the first two letters of a drug into a dispensing machine, clicked on the name of the drug that showed up and dispensed a lethal dose of vecuronium — a paralytic agent — instead of Versed, which is a common anti-anxiety drug. Human beings can become far-too reliant on technology to do the “right” thing, and they stop paying attention to daily tasks.
If you have suffered a serious injury from a medical mistake, don’t assume that there’s nothing you can do about it until you’ve found out more about your rights. If a loved one was killed by a medical error, an attorney can explain how a wrongful death claim works.