Many medical devices involve embedded computer systems that are vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches - like computer viruses and malware. Of course, for New Jersey consumers this may present privacy concerns, but many people may be less aware that lax cybersecurity standards among the makers of devices can greatly affect patient safety.
Deaths from overdose of prescription narcotic painkillers have skyrocketed in women according to new data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). The problem is getting worse quickly. The number of women dying from prescription painkillers has increase 5 fold between 1999 and 2010. These fatalities have included too many mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to go ignored. The increase in fatalities is directly related to an increase in the number of prescriptions written by physicians for both acute and chronic pain that cannot possibly be clinically indicated. In 2010, 18 women died every day from narcotic painkiller overdose, with four times as many women dying from these drugs than from cocaine and heroin. "These are troubling numbers," said the CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.
A recent study reveals that electrocardiograms (ECG) are failing to diagnose heart attacks in many cases. Failure to diagnose a heart attack on time can lead to delayed or no treatment, which can result in a subsequent heart attack-and even death.
To improve patient safety, doctors, nurses and all healthcare personnel must have a high index of suspicion for errors, reports a recent Medication Safety Alert in the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Each person on the team must anticipate and investigate the possibility when any member of the healthcare team, regardless of experience or rank, expresses concern about possible errors or when patients are not responding to treatment as expected. Often the discovery of an error is begun when someone asks a question just because something doesn't seem right. Unfortunately, there is a hierarchy of rank amongst healthcare professionals that creates a culture where even the slightest questions about possible problems with patient care are not treated seriously and dismissed without any follow up. Outright intimidation and disrespect of medical subordinates are rare, but over-deference to "more experienced" providers is common. Subordinate staff who do speak up are easily convinced that their concerns are unfounded. As a result, opportunities to catch errors before harm occurs are lost.