How do nurses interact with medical devices?

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

June 15, 2015

Look into a patient room in the ICU at any hospital across the country and you’ll see one patient hooked up to nearly a dozen devices, all of which play a vital role in keeping that person alive. But there’s one problem: None of the devices know what the others are doing.

Device interoperability, or the ability for different medical devices to communicate with one another, is severely lacking in healthcare. According to a survey released in March by the West Health Institute in San Diego, 60% of nurses indicated that medical errors could be significantly reduced if medical devices were connected and shared data automatically. Furthermore, 74% of surveyed nurses strongly or somewhat agreed that it is burdensome to coordinate the data collected by medical devices, and half of the respondents said they have witnessed a medical error because of the lack of device coordination.

“Nurses enter the profession because they want to care for patients, not because they are interested in programming machines,” Patricia H. Folcarelli, RN, senior director of patient safety at the Silverman Institute for Health Care Quality and Safety at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in a release from the West Health Institute. “As many as 10 devices may monitor or treat a single patient in an intensive care unit. The nurse not only has to program and monitor the machines, he or she often spends a significant amount of time transcribing data by hand because the devices are not designed to share information.”

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