Medical technology is a major driver of health policy today as it affects costs, access and quality. In addition, the technology also affects medical misconduct. Technical innovations in healthcare can help improve medical diagnosis and treatment, but they can also cause malfunctions and problems.
According to Jacoby & Meyers personal injury attorneys, more than 100,000 people are injured or killed by medical errors each year in the United States. Some of the most common mistakes are:
- Birth injuries
- Surgical failure
- Prescription Dosage Errors
- Anesthetic failure
- Error in diagnosis
- Delays in treatment
- Carelessness in the emergency room
If you are involved in a medical misconduct lawsuit, health technology can even play a role in resolving your case.
Advantages of medical technology
Patients and healthcare providers are positive about medical technology as advances in the area have led to better understanding of conditions, diagnosis, and treatment. Health care providers are finding that they have more time with patients and that rural areas have better health care as technology gives them better access to care.
Procedures using technology are often simplified, which increases productivity and targeted care. Human error is reduced, including filing and recording errors that can have devastating consequences.
Medical technology risks
Medical technology offers many advantages, but it also brings with it new risks. As health professionals learn to use new electronic systems, bugs can arise that can be dangerous.
Although technology can curb some areas of human error, people still make mistakes with technology. A typo that results in a decimal in the wrong place for a prescription order can be fatal, or the wrong information in a patient’s medical record can result in treatments that are unnecessary.
Effects on medical malpractice
Many experts claim that technology could reduce the incidence of medical malpractice because human error is less common with electronic methods. However, the technology could also help in a malpractice case.
With an electronic record, more documentation is available with which to check a fault. In the past, lawyers had to rely on recalled phone calls or in-office calls. Today, email, electronic records, patient portals, and other technologies provide a digital record that can be used in court.
Another area where medical misconduct could be affected by technology is in the malfunction of that technology. Because the technology includes machines with moving parts, electronic circuits, and other mechanical parts, they can malfunction.
A programming error in a CT scan can lead to a misdiagnosis, or the failure of a treatment device can lead to further injury. Medical technology is recalled every day with software that frequently causes the recall. If a patient is misdiagnosed because of technology, they can miss life-saving treatments.
Technology and healthcare providers
While technology can improve treatments and provide more patient time for healthcare providers, it can also have detrimental effects. Patients trust their doctors to diagnose and treat their illness or injury. When technology fails to diagnose or malfunction so that a disease is not treated but made worse, the patient loses confidence not only in the technology but also in the doctor.
Healthcare providers may be over-reliant on technology and disregard their own knowledge and common sense. For example, if a patient’s symptoms clearly indicate a serious illness but result from a medical technology claim that there is no illness, the health care provider must trust their own intuition and repeat that test or do others who might detect a problem. Failure to do so may increase the likelihood of abuse.