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Technology can help or hurt medical practice

Technical advances have made possible many treatment options that were not available even 10 years earlier. However, doctors have to be careful not to develop and overdependence on technology. The use of technology will never replace skill, education and plain common sense when it comes to treating patients.

Over the past 12 years, preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals have nearly doubled, from 100,000 to almost 200,000 per year. In fact, the U.S. currently has more preventable hospital deaths than any other developed country, and one in five patients in the U.S. suffer harm from medication errors or other medical errors.

One of the factors contributing to the shocking rate of medical errors is the very structure of the health care system. From the start of their training, many future doctors are exposed to harassment and a bullying culture that leads to physicians who are not sympathetic to the feelings and needs of patients. Further, problems in health care systems tend to be solved slowly because of authority-based environments that do not encourage voicing of opinions.

Many of these problems can be solved not by implementing technology but by changing the way people interact. The primary goal of changing health care systems is better patient service. When a culture of respect is fostered between health care professionals, systems can work differently and perhaps more people will receive quality care.

Victims who have suffered from malpractice or hospital errors do not have to remain silent, though. A medical malpractice attorney can examine a case and explain a patient's rights in regard to collecting damages for injuries.

Source: Forbes, "Why Are Doctors So Slow To Learn?" Steve Denning, Oct. 9, 2012

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