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Smart technology aims to reduce medication errors

New technology could potentially reduce the number of life-threatening complications caused from improper medication dosage; however, not all hospitals are on board yet with the Smart IV system.

According to sources, the Smart IV system works to reduce medication errors through a scanner and barcode that ensures the right patient is getting the right medication, and in the right amount, which is crucial to a patients' health.

For example, if a patient is given too much medication too quickly there can be adverse effects, but on the other hand, if the medication is not given quick enough it may never reach the level that is effective for the patient.

So far one hospital that is using the Smart IV system has credited the technology for catching 11 medication mistakes that - if not caught - could have been fatal for the patient.

Sources claim that 61 percent of medication errors are IV related, which means that this new system has the potential to greatly reduce the number of people seriously injured or killed due to hospital staff medication dosage errors.

While some hospitals have decided to spend the money on the new technology, and are reporting less medication errors thanks to the system, going forward it will be interesting to see if the Smart IV is to blame for unnecessary errors.

It is important to remember that the Smart IV is technology, which while heavily reliable could also have problems resulted in rather complicated medical malpractice cases. For example, what would happen if there was a glitch in the system and patient information was lost? Who's to blame for the mistake? Or what if the scanner incorrectly read a patient's barcode resulting in the wrong medication being given? As more hospitals begin to adopt the technology, it will be interesting to see if the number of complaints regarding medication errors continues to decrease, or if a whole new set of accountability issues arise.

Source: KENS5.com, "Smart IV pump cuts down on medical errors," Wendy Rigby, 25 Jan 2011

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