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Researchers find new way to prevent IV errors

Errors involving the intravenous delivery of medication to a patient are responsible for as many as 61 percent of hospital mistakes that threaten a patient's life. The primary issue with IVs is that they are delivered by nurses or other hospital staff members, opening up the opportunity for human error.

The main errors that occur during IV administration are accidentally mixing up which drug is administered, administering the wrong dose and delivering incompatible drugs at the same time. Fortunately, a group of researchers think they may have found a way to dramatically reduce these human errors that can cause serious harm to patients.

The researchers -- group of computer and electrical engineering students -- seem to have created a new form of technology that can tell what type of drug is an IV line. They hope that combining this technology with current technology that can deliver precise doses of medication to patients at the necessary times will help cut down on the number of errors involving IVs.

The students are also working on building technology that would be able to sense combinations of drugs as well. Right now, their system can detect two different drugs in one IV, but they hope to create a system that could detect up to 10 different drugs in a single IV.

Far too often we hear about the dangers of spending too much time in the hospital. While medical errors and hospital negligence are still a possibility, hearing about the advances being made in patient safety help provide hope that medical errors will eventually begin decreasing.

Source: BioOptics World, "Real-time detector for IV drugs could prevent life-threatening medical errors," Lee Mather, Oct. 8, 2013

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