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New technology may help patients receive proper medication

Medical patients in New Mexico may now be more likely to receive the correct medications without depending entirely on the human factor. New technology has been developed in a computerized system that could be helpful in reducing errors that cause potential harm.

The distribution of incorrect medications, dosages and timing are fairly common in today's busy health care facilities. The Institute of Medicine reported in 2006 that as many as one and a half million patients received the incorrect medications while hospitalized. Two graduates of MIT, after several years of studying the problem, have developed a system that may reduce the incidents of mistaken medication administered by hospital personnel.

Their invention, known as the MedEye, works by scanning a patient's hospital-issued identification wristband with a handheld scanner. The barcode within the wristband first accesses the patient's records. The health care practitioner then places the intended medications under the device, which scans the pills and identifies them according to an extensive database. The medication is then given either a red light, if it appears to be incorrect or not in the database, or a green light, indicating the correct medication when cross-referenced to the patient's records. The practitioner can add in new medications that may not yet be in the database.

There is some difficulty in installing these systems as they are expensive and require coordination and barcoding. Only the largest hospitals may be able to afford the change, with smaller facilities still relying on busy human practitioners. When there is a questionable event in the care of a loved one, medical malpractice may be the cause. An attorney who has experience in this area can help determine whether recourse is available.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Reducing medication errors with scanning system that ensures patients get the right pills", Rob Matheson, August 28, 2014

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