Technology reduces medical errors, universal solution still needed

We live in the age of information. Like it or hate it, technology can help healthcare providers treat patients in a more efficient manner and prevent potential medical errors that occur from cases of mistaken identity. While the healthcare industry is far from finding a universal solution, hospitals in Pennsylvania and across the nation are using different types of technology to help prevent medical malpractice.

Smart Cards are one of the most effective ways for medical professionals to correctly identify patients. The card, which contains a memory chip as well as the patient’s photo, resembles a credit card. When the card is swiped by the caregiver, it opens up the patient’s electronic health record. There medical professionals can see a patient’s entire medical history from emergency room visits to home health care. Smart cards are popular because it eliminates the need to manually reconcile an electronic patient chart using an account number, social security number or another identifier that could potentially be entered incorrectly. Biometric identification methods are starting to be tested in hospitals as well. This allows patients to be identified by fingerprints, palm scans or retina scans.

Despite these advancements in technology, the healthcare identification system still needs to be perfected. Many hospitals lack the funding to implement solutions such as Smart Cards. Without a universal solution, there is still the possibility that not all medical decisions will be accurate or that a Jane Doe in Philadelphia receives the treatment intended for a Jane Doe in Springfield. If you have suffered as a result of a medical error of any sort, you may want to speak with an attorney regarding your legal rights.

Source: Healthleaders Media, “Despite EHR, Patient ID Problems Persist,” Scott Mace, July 31, 2013



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