Medication Errors Often Caused by Technology

Technology usage in the medical industry has dramatically increased in the last decade. Most hospitals in Connecticut make use of computerized systems to manage patient treatment information. This includes medication dosage and instructions. While the technology is designed to reduce human error and increase patient safety, it has the potential to breed new types of errors and concerns for patients.

A 2016 report on patient safety described that three commonly reported technology errors involved dose omission, wrong dose or overdose, and extra dose. Dispensing the incorrect dosage to a patient or omitting a dose may be dangerous and could lead to death in many situations. Sometimes, technology has built-in failsafe features such as an infusion pump able to automatically limit dosage based on information about safe dosage amounts.

Agencies responsible for patient safety encourage hospital staff to carefully monitor the technology and report when an error does occur. Like all computerized software systems, the programs running patient care are subject to bugs or errors that cannot be corrected unless they are reported and actively improved upon. It is also important not to be reliant on technology and software to provide for patient care. Staff should remain knowledgeable about medications and patients to ensure they can identify a mistake before it causes serious harm.

A victim of a medication error may be entitled to compensation. Liability in a malpractice lawsuit can be complicated if technology is primarily at fault. Hospital staff may share liability with the manufacturers of the technology or those responsible for the programs at fault. A malpractice attorney may be able to help a client sort out liability and prepare a case.