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Technology could help clinicians better communicate

Nearly 200,000 people die in Colorado and the rest of the U.S. each year because of a fatal medical mistake. Technology may be able to change the underlying culture preventing clinicians from pointing out errors they witness in a situation such as a surgery. Although it's commonly believed by people in healthcare positions that the cultural fear of punishment hinders technological safety advances, technology could help the culture change to improve efficiency and safety.

Silence Kills is a 2005 report studying the behavior of clinical-care staff, nurses, physicians and administrators when they saw a coworker make a mistake while performing their job. It was found that 84 percent of 1700 physicians saw their colleagues put a patient in danger by showing medical professional negligence. Safety technology can go a long way towards effectively treating patients, but if clinicians are afraid to confront a superior or colleague about mistakes because of possible negative consequences, then technology will only help so much.

A solution to this problem may lie in using something like an airplane's black box technology. This system would track and record the clinicians and the equipment they are using. This assures the person at-fault is held responsible for the mistake, such as a nursing error or a doctor error, and the team will also be punished for not noticing. The person pointing out the problem will be seen as helpful to the clinician or the team instead of being considered a troublemaker.

In the event of hospital negligence, surgical error or other medical mistake, an experienced attorney may be able to help the injured party seek the compensation they are due. An attorney may be able to aid the person in receiving medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Source: Huffington Post, "Silence Kills: Can Technology Drive Meaningful Cultural Change In Health Care?" Robert J. Szczerba, May 1, 2015

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