Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mobile Health Devices Not Immune to Human Error Factor

I can see the advantages of doctors using mobile devices to access patient records, test results, and other information needed to provide good quality medical care. I can even appreciate that using them can help to keep health care costs more affordable by reducing the need for bulky paper records.

Unfortunately, there is a down side to mobile health devices, and that involves the people using them. Doctors have many, many demands on their time when they are on the job and something as simple as interruption when trying to input instructions about patient care for the nursing staff can have severe consequences.

I knew residents working in hospitals were busy people but I was very surprised to discover that the average number of interruptions they have to deal with during a shift was 4.6 per hour. Further complicating matters is the fact that a number of hospitals allow medical staff to bring their own mobile devices to work with them.

This is clearly a case where more is not necessarily better, and in the midst of a busy shift, I can see someone picking up the wrong device and trying to use it for work purposes. When doctors make mistakes with mobile health applications, it can lead to patients not being given proper medication or receiving appropriate medical care. Perhaps the answer is for hospitals to ban all non-workplace issued mobile devices when on the job.

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