Doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals face a daunting task in learning all of the complex, frequently-changing medical devices they use on a daily basis. And the risk is more significant than you might think at first.
Although most medical devices in modern hospitals have safety features, they are far from perfect. When medical professionals begin trusting the safety features of their technology-driven instruments, and these instruments fail, the results can be disastrous.
The instruments doctors are using to help people can actually cause more harm to patients when these devices break down.
Infusion pumps represent a key example of this danger. According to an article from medcitynews.com, infusion pumps were listed number in a list of technological hazards in the healthcare industry by the ECRI Institute. (The ECRI Institute is a nonprofit research group based out of Philadelphia that researches issues related to patient safety and care).
Even with the integrated technological safety features in most infusion devices, medical errors often result from these devices due to:
- Failure to monitor: Because doctors and nurses trust the technology to do its job, they often get out of the habit of making sure everything is working appropriately. The results can include over or under dosing patients, which can have severe consequences.
- Alarm fatigue: Although infusion devices do have alarms, most medical professionals and hospital workers are de-sensitized to these alarms. The reality is that their work lives are filled with lights and beeps, to the point where they can’t attend to all of these alarms and important notices get overlooked (alarm fatigue has been high on the ECRI Institute’s list for a long time).
- Failure to maintain and clean: Any machine needs manual maintenance, upkeep and cleaning. In some cases, infusion pumps get gummed up and can’t administer the medicine the contained.
- Mechanical breakdown: Similar to maintenance and cleaning, these devices need to be checked regularly for functionality. All mechanical instruments break down and fail eventually, so regular upkeep and monitoring of the functionality of these devices is the only way to be sure a device doesn’t fail during use with a patient whose life could well depend on the device’s functionality.
There are significant dangers in these devices. Hopefully doctors, nurses and other medical professionals take this article to heart and use more appropriate attention and care to infusion pumps and other medical devices. The lives of their patients depend on it.