The world of health care is being changed daily by the advancement of medical equipment and devices. The drive to detect earlier, diagnose faster, and treat more thoroughly impacts the inventors creating the equipment, as well as the medical staff using it. Unfortunately, this motivation to heal is not enough. In fact, the push to do more and do it faster has often led to injury, infection and death. Medical equipment failure has many causes, but only one outcome. It adds suffering and pain to the patient and their families.
Equipment Failure – Causes and Protections
Medical facilities, equipment and staff have the ability to erase an illness, ease pain, and add years to a lifetime. However, if there is a lack of care and training this healing can become a nightmare. A hospital has a responsibility to maintain all equipment to specifications and to ensure that all staff is trained on its use. Many of these machines are not properly maintained and constant technological advancements demand constant training for medical staff. Inaccurate dosing of radiation equipment, failing pacemakers and diagnostic monitors improperly used are just a few examples of equipment failures that can turn healing to tragedy. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement focuses on helping medical facilities to improve their policies and training as a way to decrease medical mistakes. The Food and Drug Agency maintains records of adverse outcomes due to medical devices, allowing it to respond quickly to repeat offenders through equipment recalls. However, these organizations cannot replace diligence of a facility to maintain its equipment or staff to properly use it. Injuries and fatalities continue to climb each year.
The fear of medical errors does not have to be immobilizing. There are facilities that have strict regulations, have proper inspections performed and supply their staff with adequate training. In turn, these facilities will have few medical mistakes and will rank high on sites and by the doctors that use them for procedures. A patient can be an active participant in his care and where it is received. A well respected doctor and a high ranking facility can ease some of the concern. Unfortunately, medical care is a mixture of machine and human, both of which are not perfect. These cases are a significant part of the world of medical malpractice.
A Promise to Cause no Harm
There is recourse for victims of equipment failure, either through defects or improper use. Medical malpractice is caused by negligence. This negligence could be the result of a person, a device, or a combination of both. It is important for individuals and their families to understand that it is the duty of manufacturers of the equipment and its operator to ensure no undue harm comes to the patient. Any reaction, such as infection, injury or death, is the responsibility of those involved in the treatment. A patient, nor their family members, should accept them as possible risks of treatment.
Humans make mistakes and machines can be defective. The argument against medical errors lies in the failure to create policies, training and maintenance that strongly limit these problems. Manufacturers, medical facilities and staff have a responsibility to protect the patient from undue harm and to be active in healing the sick. A patient is not powerless. The first step in ensuring safe treatment begins with the individual through knowledge of a procedure, the equipment and the safety records of the hospital and its staff.
If you or someone you know has been affected by medical equipment fraud, it may be in your best interest to seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in personal injury or medical malpractice claims. You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and sufferings.