Technology to Promote Reporting of Medical Errors Needed

In the health care industry, individuals are often reluctant to point out a mistake by a practitioner for fear of being labeled a snitch. However, such errors in Connecticut and across the country result in almost 200,000 deaths per year.

A 2005 study found that over 80 percent of doctors had observed a colleague take a dangerous shortcut or exercise poor clinical judgment. More than half of the medical practitioners had witnessed behavior that endangered a patient or had a negative effect on the work of the health care team. Less than 10 percent of the clinical staff in the study reported that they had directly confronted their colleague about what they observed.

Safety measures have been developed to prevent medical errors. However, some researchers contend that a missing component is communications technology to support and encourage error reporting. Some people have compared the technology to the black boxes on airplanes that record everything that occurs in the plane. Technology that monitors medical procedures could promote a team approach to health care. Reporting errors would then be seen as protecting the patient as well as the individual practitioner and their team.

Medical malpractice claims are not limited to negligence by an individual health care provider. A hospital or other institution that discourages reporting errors makes the prevention of mistakes less likely. In that case, the institution may be liable for malpractice as well. If an individual has suffered a preventable medical error, the individual or their family might want to speak to an attorney who handles malpractice cases. If the attorney finds that negligence by an individual practitioner or an institution is indicated, they may file a malpractice suit against the individual and the institution that allowed the error to go unreported.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Silence Kills: Can Technology Drive Meaningful Cultural Change In Health Care?,” Robert J. Szczerba, May 1, 2015