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Tech System Looks to Reduce Medical Errors During Shift Changes

Medical ErrorsA hospital is a busy place, with hundreds of doctors, nurses, and support staff members bustling around as they tend to the needs of their patients. During a shift change, there are even more people to account for, and communication can become extremely difficult. Unfortunately, a shift change is also when important patient information must be passed from the staff heading home to the staff about to start their work. Such information is critically important, and miscommunications can lead to dangerous or deadly medical errors. An ongoing study at Boston Medical Center, however, suggests that new cloud-based technology systems may be the key to reducing medical mistakes during shift changes—or “patient handoffs.”

A Substantial Reduction in Errors

The study was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and spanned two years of testing. Nursing staff at Boston Medical began using cloud- and web-based tools provided by I-PASS Patient Safety Institute. Within two years, the hospital saw a 30 percent drop in medical errors during patient handoffs, preventing potential adverse medical events and saving the facility up to $20 million.

Standardization Matters

The I-PASS system is designed to be built in to the hospitals electronic health records (EHR) system. The staff member coming off of his or her shift enters information into the record regarding the patient’s reason for admission, condition, treatments, and needs. The system is then used as a reference for a verbal handoff at the patient’s bedside. The nurse coming on shift repeats the data back verbally, ensuring that nothing was missed.

The name “I-PASS” is actually mnemonic device for “Illness severity, Patient summary, Action list, Situation awareness and contingency plans, and Synthesis by receiver. When all of these items are covered in a standardized manner during a handoff, there is less room for miscommunication or accidental omission. The system was originally designed to work on tablet computers, the trial at Boston Medical suggests that using I-PASS nurse station desktops are sufficient are more cost-effective.

Injured by a Medical Mistake?

While any efforts to reduce medical errors are laudable, some mistakes go much deeper than miscommunication. A medical professional who provides substandard levels of care may be committing malpractice, and he or she could be held liable for any injuries sustained by patients.

If you have suffered an injury while under the care of a doctor or hospital, contact an experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorney. Call (408) 289-1417 to schedule an appointment with Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P today.

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