Beating the 'Human Error' Factor in Hospital Errors
The hospital can be a dangerous place, as anyone who has ever been there knows. Patients go to the hospital to get better, but all too often they come out even sicker than when they went in!
Hospitals, of course, are full of sick people, meaning that they are full of germs. But there's another, more nefarious danger: Mistakes made by overburdened staff, especially in the administration of medicines and treatments. Statistics show that medical errors are the fifth leading cause of death and exact a greater toll on human life than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS – and deaths from such errors are growing at a rate of at least 1% annually!
One of the reasons for this problem, says Dr. Jack Nusbacher of Israel's Pro-IV, is because hospitals rely on the “human element” for the execution of a patient's treatment. Despite hospitals' best efforts to remain organized, they are tense places; and although doctors and nurses are trained to stand up to pressure and perform even under the most difficult circumstances, it's almost inevitable that they will make mistakes – and sometimes those mistakes can cost lives.
Pro-IV offers a solution to this problem: a computerized medical management system that ensures that caregivers must meticulously follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) when administering drugs. Any deviation from the plan, and the system that administers infusions of medications won't work.
The Pro-IV system is based on a proprietary valve which is attached to an IV feed, the typical method of medication delivery in hospitals. The disposable valve is connected to a controller, which acts as a regulator and flow monitor and which regulates IV flow, rate and duration of infusion. The system is controlled by a handheld device, which checks the patient's treatment protocol, described in a barcode on the patient's chart or wrist band. When it's time for a dose, the handheld device reads the barcode, and checks the medication, dosage, timing, and contraindications of the IV in question; it then checks with the controller to ensure that everything is in place.
If everything checks out, the handheld device allows the controller to open the valve – and the IV dose is delivered to the patient's bloodstream. Otherwise, an alarm sounds, indicating that the patient is in need of a dose that has not yet been administered. Once the patient has received treatment, the incident is recorded on their hospital record, enabling doctors and nurses to easily check the record.
It's a near-foolproof system, says Nusbacher, and “far superior to any other management system. There are no other systems available today that are designed to prevent errors in gravity-driven infusion systems, which are by far the most widely-used approach for intravenous administration of medications,” he says, adding that “our mission is ensure that the right patient receives the right drug in the right dose at the right rate in the right sequence and at the right time.”