Each year, an estimated 250,000 Americans die as a result of medical errors—the term given to any effort by healthcare professionals that had a preventable adverse effect for the patient. A topic I’ve discussed in past blogs—the total number has even been reported as high as 400,000 a year by the Journal of Patient Safety since many of these medical mistakes are not officially documented.
While a patient may be the victim of a medical error at most any point during treatment, many in the healthcare industry acknowledge that mistakes are most likely to occur during staff shift changes—when one team of doctors and nurses departs the hospital and another resumes the patient’s care.
In fact, 80 percent of serious medical errors result from miscommunication that arises during the transfer of duties, according to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. Such missteps lead to delayed or inappropriate treatment, longer hospital stays and—at their worse—direct patient harm.
Now there exists a possible solution that simply relies on the mobile devices that most all healthcare professionals carry with them at all times in the form of Care Thread—a real-time app that provides a link between medical personnel and electronic healthcare platforms. This innovative software allows mobile messages to flow between teams, pushes clinical information directly to staff as it becomes available, and maps patient tasks in real time, reducing untimely interruptions and minimizing miscommunication. Additionally, Care Thread is HIPAA-compliant and protects patient privacy via end-to-end encryption.
Ultimately, the developers of the new healthcare app hope that Care Thread will help promote better interaction between medical personnel. By fostering best practices and helping to provide a uniform level of care, the app has the potential to greatly improve teamwork, care coordination and patient safety in busy healthcare facilities.
It’s important to realize that such technology is not a universal panacea for certain problems, especially when it has not been widely adopted. It should always be up to all members of the medical community to accept responsibility for their actions and hold themselves to the highest standards in providing care to any and every individual. Even with such advances, unacceptable mistakes can and will continue to occur—yet they should never be considered a routine part of anyone’s healthcare.
Both an Emory School of Law graduate and MBA graduate of Goizueta Business School at Emory, Chris Nace focuses his practice on areas of medical malpractice, drug and product liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination and other negligence and personal injury matters.