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Is technology actually helping to reduce medical negligence cases?

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Medical negligence is something that we hope we don’t encounter in our lifetime. However, it does affect a significant number of people in the UK annually.

During 2021-2022, there were more than 15,000 cases, with 86.7 per cent of these claims being successful.

Technological advancements are constantly changing the way the healthcare industry operates, from admin and monitoring to surgical interventions that can improve accuracy.

But are the results really as positive as we might think?

In this article, we’ll discuss the effects of technology on medical negligence, touching upon both the positives and negatives.

Improved productivity

Technology in the medical sector has been widely praised for its ability to reduce workload and time spent doing certain tasks.

It has also contributed to a better understanding of health conditions, diagnosis, and treatment.

Medical staff can therefore focus better and spend more time providing care to their patients.

One likely contributing factor to medical negligence is human error, particularly when it comes to filing and recordkeeping.

Automation technology reduces the likelihood of an error being made, which means paperwork is more likely to be stored safely.

Reduction in medication errors

Medication errors are common and can lead to adverse side effects for patients. Advancements involving information systems have been proven to reduce these errors.

The improvements include things like computerised physician order entries, automated dispensers, medical administration of drugs using computers, and physician decision support.

However, it should be noted that while technology can reduce the risk of human error, mistakes may still be made.

For example, healthcare professionals may still type the wrong information into the computer, which could lead to incorrect medical records and treatment.

The technology won’t be able to pick up these errors and they may go unnoticed.

Technological malfunctions

It’s important to remember that no system will run smoothly at all times, and medical technology is no different. Technical malfunctions can occur under the radar and may lead to a medical negligence claim being made.

For example, a programming error in a CT scan could result in the patient not being diagnosed properly or urgent treatment being delayed.

If technology fails to properly diagnose a patient, it could also lead to them losing trust in the doctors themselves.

For instance, if a patient shows symptoms but technology doesn’t identify any issues, they may become very unwell or worse.

This is why doctors must also use their own intuition and run further tests.

Overreliance on technology

With technology now being used on many occasions, it could be that staff have become complacent in their practices. This overreliance on technology could reduce skill and ability.

This is entirely speculation however, and we can’t be sure whether members of staff react to the use of technology differently. But this is an important factor that needs to be considered.

In conclusion, technology has benefitted the healthcare industry, improving the efficiency of processes and reducing the chances of errors being made.

However, medical negligence cases are still occurring regardless, mainly due to technical malfunctions and failures in diagnosing patients accurately.

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