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With Improved Hospital Technology, Plenty Of New Risks, Part 1

While technological advances have touched all aspects of human life, the impact has been particularly profound in the world of healthcare. Improved devices and procedures have dramatically extended life spans and made it much safer to seek treatment at hospitals in California and around the United States.

However, as a new report from a research institute describes, advances bring additional hazards for patient safety. The Emergency Care Research Institute released a list of 10 of the most dangerous technology-related problems. This will be the first of a two-part series that looks at technology and potential medical malpractice claims.

1. Hospital wards are filled with notification systems. Some workers hear literally hundreds of patient-related alarms every day and can become desensitized. With so many notifications and alarms sounding constantly, it can become very easy to miss a critical warning.

2. Infusion pumps improve IV medication delivery by monitoring a steady and reliable flow of fluids. Safe treatment, however, depends upon accurate setup and data entry. If a nurse types the wrong information into a pump, patients can receive the wrong amount of powerful medications.

3. CT scans help many doctors make difficult diagnoses by revealing unseen conditions. Repeat or multiple CT scans can subject patients to dangerous amounts of radiation exposure, potentially causing cancer. Too much of a good thing can be very dangerous.

Check back next week for the rest of the list.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Top ten hospital hazards," Nov. 5, 2012

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