Interoperability is the key to preventing medical error deaths

Interoperability is the key to preventing medical error deaths

According to the recent BMJ data analysis, the third-leading cause of death is now medical errors. Let that sink in for a moment.

I know it is pretty hard to believe that the people, facilities, and equipment that are supposed to help us are making mistakes at a rate so high that it is now the third most common reason for death. 

What’s even more appalling is that when a medical error is the cause of the death, there is no mention of it on the death certificate. See when someone dies the death certificate is filled out with an International Classification Code (ICD). Unfortunately, there is no ICD code for human or system errors that cause the death.

Without proper tracking, we have been completely unaware of how these deaths were occurring.

In the past, the lack of medical error accountability and analyzation has kept us from catching the diagnostic errors, inadequacies, poor judgment, and communication breakdowns that cause death.

When a group of John Hopkins researchers teamed up to look into just what is causing these medical error deaths, they found some interesting conclusions. Estimations for United States hospitals in 2014 showed that 170,000 people died because of some mistake. 

Painfully it was determined that 44 percent of the medical error deaths were preventable.

The good news is that there is a path to preventing medical error deaths!

It begins within the sector of Health Information Technology. By creating and implementing interoperability that contains the capabilities for capturing and integrating data from anywhere, we can better understand how and why these medical errors are occurring.

Along with our team of partners, we at Rural Health IT Corporation have built solutions that understand the need for working with the native systems that health organizations are already using. Cost is kept down by minimizing disruption to current systems. It has always been our ethos to help the underserved communities. We do this be ensuring that the technology can be comprehensive and extensive enough to work at a fundamental level regardless of the pre-existing information technology.

Accessing standardizing and normalizing the data then creates the opportunity for new algorithms. Identifying problem areas and assessing the conditions contributing to medical errors become possible with health information technology.

The primary focus from an IT standpoint is to prevent the mistakes before they happen.

Saving lives due to medical error begins with being able to understand the full-scale data. The answers to medical errors lie within the details of how and why the mistake or malfunction took place. Being able to analyze these very misfortunate circumstances will keep loved ones living longer.

Many of the mistakes reported by the BMJ are due to a lack of interoperability between opposing providers. Even though a healthcare organization may have excellent interoperability within their particular enterprise, they are often completely unable to communicate to an outside health organization.

Medical errors, and often even fatal ones, occur because a patient's vital data does not travel with them. Failing to know a patient's allergies, medications, and pre-existing medical conditions is a problem. Without critical data, mistakes are prone to happen.

The first step in solving this crisis is to understand what exactly is the medical error that has caused the death.

When we can see the exact specifics of the mishap, we will be able to begin the process in helping to stop these preventable deaths. We find answers to questions and implement new plans of action. We will be able to see if it was an equipment issue or training issue or an environmental condition such as an overworked physician or lack of patient knowledge.

At RHITC we are providing the information technology solutions, but this is a joint issue that needs involvement from the entire health care industry. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) continues to offer grant opportunities that can keep patients from harm. If you are a health organization that needs funding we can help. We have a proven track record in obtaining financing for healthcare data technology, see if you are pre-approved.


We can help!

Do you need funding to make the interoperability of healthcare data possible for your organization?