Millions of Patients Given Wrong Medication/Dosage Could Prove Deadly

Do you ever wonder how nurses can keep each patient’s prescription straight?  How about the dosage?  Or when the patient needs his or her medication?  Allergies?  This system is dated, inefficient, and flat-out dangerous.  According to a government study in 2011, roughly 1.9 million patients in U.S. hospitals were given the wrong drug or dosage.  Luckily, PatientSafe Solutions, Inc. has stepped in to address this horrifying health hazard and have provided a great solution.

The San Diego company has made a splash, as it ranks 24th on the Wall Street Journal’s “Next Big Thing” list.  The device that they hope will eliminate prescription drug handling problems is a handheld scanner, which allows nurses and other authorized hospital staff to quickly learn “information such as their diagnoses, vital signs, allergies, scheduled medications and food intake” by simply scanning a barcode.  Furthermore, hospital workers can scan medicine vials to ensure that the patient actually needs that medication.  One might think this is far-fetched, and that a nurse or doctor would not mix up medicines between there patients, but it happens.  1.9 million times in 2011 to be exact.

As someone who has been admitted at the hospital on several occasions, this product is not only smart, but it ensures quality.  Instead of the nurse or doctor coming in and asking what medication I am on, they can just scan the barcode on my wristband, and all questions are answered.  However, I am able to respond and give staff the information they need, so it is no a big problem.  The problem lies with an older patient.  Maybe they do not remember what they are taking or what their allergies are.  That is why this technology is long overdue, and will definitely prove to be effective.  In fact, Joe Condurso, President and Chief of PatientSafe Solutions, notes obvious benefits that come along with this technology: “[PatientSafe] increases quality and reduces cost” for hospitals and patients.  Customer quality cannot be overstressed, especially at a hospital with a hundreds of lives on the line at all times.

Currently, 70 hospitals use the PatientSafes’ technology, and that will surely continue to grow.  Both the process and quality of prescription drug handling and distribution will be exponentially increased the moment a hospital implements this technology.  But it does beg the question, if a study showed that 1.9 million patients received the wrong drug or dosage in 2011, then why isn’t it mandatory to have a system like this in each hospital?  People’s lives are at stake because of the poor processes that are put in place at these facilities.  Where is the quality management?

What do you think are the pros and cons of using technology like PatientSafe Solutions?  Do you think it is cost-effective and quality assuring?


14 thoughts on “Millions of Patients Given Wrong Medication/Dosage Could Prove Deadly

  1. If the product can make a significant change and reduce overall cost than I’d say its should be implemented to the medical world, and fast. My uncle had a similar situation happen to him where the wrong vaccine was given to him. He walked out of the doctors office feeling even more sick than when he came in.

    The pros of using this product is definitely customer security and reduction of cost. The downfall would be the initial introduction period for the product, meaning, the product might not do so well in the intro stage. Or, doctors might not want to start fund a product that they themselves have no time to test, (if they have a busy office).

    I would say in the end this is cost affective as it can save millions in wasted vaccines and quality assuring as it assures the patient that they will receive the right medicine. Overall, I hope the PatientSafe Solutions start showing up in hospitals and clinics that way. Hopefully, then, patients can avoid my uncle’s incident and feel better leaving the doctor’s instead of worse. Thanks for your post.

  2. I understand how this could be a helpful product to have in hospitals, however, I think it only adds to the carelessness of doctors and nurses as they will now have technology to rely on. As we know, technology is not always perfect and is subject to errors– what happens if PatientSafe makes a mistake? Do you think that doctors or nurses would be paying enough attention to notice it, or do you think that they would put so much faith into the technology that they would ignore any red flags their intuition might send, and just go with what the technology tells them to do?

    Overall, I think it’s a good concept, but I think that it could lead to more of the same, unfortunately. As far as cost-effectiveness, what does PatientSafe cost? How reliable is it? Without knowing that information it’s difficult to say.

  3. I think this device is a phenomenal advancement in the healthcare industry. What surprises me is that it took this long for something like this to come along. In a world where everything is automated, it is a surprise that something like this took so long to be implemented. Why not take out human error in matters of people’s health. I disagree with the person above, it is more likely for a human to make an error than an actual machine. I think is actually magnified by that fact that these health care professionals are often over worked and put in extremely long hours. Human error seems even more likely in these types of situations.

  4. It’s true, we rely on technology for a lot of our daily tasks. However, this is not entirely a bad thing. If the technology is there, we should use it to our advantage. This would in turn cause nurses to rely on PatientSafe, but the implementation of this technology exceeds the risks of forgetting the dosage or medication of a patient. Yes, mistakes could occur with a glitch in the technology; therefore, patients should continue to have charts of their vitals and their medication dosages in case of error.

  5. I am surprised that a product like this is just coming out now. I feel as though this is something that should have already been invented. This type of technology could simply be an app on a smart phone that scares Q-codes or other types of bar codes that lead to a database of information.

    I like the point that durakovic posted above about how not only will these keep the patients safe, but it will save tons of money. If someone is given the wrong vaccine or medication, this does not mean that they dont need the one they originally went in for anymore. They will still need to be administered the correct drug.

    However, Szivkovic about made a very valid point as well. Would this make doctors lazy? We cannot always rely on technology to be 100% correct and functional. Would the doctors purely rely on this barcode scan or would they do their research on top of it, familiarize themselves with the patient and know they best treatment for them.

    I think it would be great to have the technology, but as with anything there is always a reason why its not good. It would speed things up and doctors would potentially be able to see more patients. However, that same thing could lead to their downfall if they start doing things too quickly and do not take the right precautions.

    I do not think that it would be hard to implement into the system though. I think that people are so use to technology advancements today, that this would not be very difficult. All in all, I think that this would be a great product, as long as doctors know that they still need to put in the effort and time to make sure that they are always doing what is best for their patient. The technology should be used as a double check, not the main thing they rely on.

  6. I believe that while use of this product in hospitals may reduce overall cost, I think that will it will not be effective. Hospitals are forgetting that patients who are ill and families of patients who are ill want to feel comfortable and taken care of when they are there and not just like another number. I feel that it is important to keep the the doctor patient relationship as strong as possible and with the use of this new technology, I feel that it will weaken it. Another issue that will come into play is how often the technology will be updated, which will cause confusion between patient and doctors and could cause some doctors to be lazy and overlook patients current/new illnesses.
    Although this new technology is undoubtedly flashy and impressive, its downfalls outweigh its benefits..

  7. Great article and response.
    I can relate as I work at a company that does Electronic Medical Record (EMR) implementations so this technology is right up my alley. I am surprised that I see so much negativity towards technology in the medical field. Day in and day out I can see how this type of tech improves the safety and productivity of the clinics.

  8. I would love to as well see something like this come out in the market and have a bigger impact in the health care industry. As someone who has had several doctor visits from various specialists, it always seems that it is a hassle and repetitive process that they must ask me, the patient, what it is that’s exactly wrong with me. Although, it may sort of take away the “human” aspect of the health care industry, I feel that with technological advances of today, there should be a faster way to deal and process more patients in a safe and reliable manner.

  9. Well in regards to the system beig implemented I believe hospitals should have a choice in the matter. However a mistake of this magnitude should force the hostpital to implement it due to that error. If they have a proven record of no errors the money involved in implementing and risking mistakes as well as deaths as the system is learned. I think that the the potential benefits outweigh cons though.

  10. Although the costs to purchase such a system and to teach the staff how to use this system could be costly I think that this will prove to be very effective and useful. There is always two sides to an arguement and I see why some people might see errors in the system and ways that it could fail but with everything revolving around technology today im not surprised that hospital are turning to technology to help provide faster more accurate information when they need it. This will definitely help doctors and nurses do their jobs more efficiently.

  11. This is a great post, and a good find. I wrote my blog on a similar topic- how doctors commonly make mistakes in hospitals, and the results are really devastating. You wrote that 1.9 million people are given the wrong prescriptions/dosages. That is crazy! I am glad a company is finally coming up with a system, that is desperately needed.

  12. I agree with the new system that is being implemented. Far too long have elderly patients got the wrong medication that can cause them to go into cardiac arrest or even worse, death. The cost might be high at the beginning but you cant really place a cost on life. Also, you need to factor in all the litigation’s that hospitals go through because of doctors or nurses giving the wrong medication and how those will be quickly eliminated. I believe that this is a smart move in the health-care field and that nurses and doctors should be excited for it to be implemented.

  13. I think that this new system is going to help out a lot of patients, especially the ones that forget what medication they are taking or that take too many medications. A lot of people I know have told me how doctors have prescribed them wrong medications and many times have had secondary effects. This new system will be able to aid doctors and nurses, and of course patients so that they can have better doctor visits. More people are going to be willing to visit doctors because they will feel mosre secure that they will be prescibed the right medicine.

  14. Initially I thought this technology would be extremely beneficial in the medical industry. I especially agree in regards to elders who may forget what medications they may be receiving, or may have a language barrier that would prevent them from properly communicating with the medical staff. However, Szivkovic does brings up a point that cannot be ignored. Implementation of any new system that decreases the amount of time it takes to complete a task can cause some to become dependent. Once someone becomes dependent and too reliant, it is more difficult to ensure that one would be aware if the technology is not functioning properly.

    Beyond the technical issues, there is the human aspect. Nikolova brings up a very important point. You arenusually in the hospital because of an illness or injury and the doctor/nurse and patient relationship is necessary for comfort and to feel a bit more at ease. Although the technology will increase efficiency and the number patients a doctor/nurse may be able to tend to, the likelihood of a practitioner walking into a room, scanning, and walking back out is increased with this technology.

    I most definitely see the pros of this technology, but the cons can’t be ignored.

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