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Doctor says more integrated equipment can save lives

Johns Hopkins patient safety guru Dr. Peter Pronovost says hospitals and industry need to collaborate so electronic equipment in emergency rooms and intensive care units are giving medical staff the right signals.

In a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pronovost, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, and medical student Simon C. Matthews, say clinicians are overloaded with raw data but no single smart system to integrate the information.

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The results could be diagnostic mistakes, miscommunication and missed problems with patients.
Improvements could improve safety and save money, they concluded. They pointed to the aviation industry as an example.

"When a major airline wants an aircraft for its fleet, it does not painstakingly assemble it by deciding which seats, control systems, engines, communications systems, oxygen masks and other components to use," they wrote.

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"The airline does not try to determine the best way for these and hundreds of other components to fit together; rather, it relies on an industry integrator (such as Boeing) to build a low-cost, high-quality aircraft that is safe and meets the needs of its end users. The result is a lower-cost, higher-quality airplane with components that work together. Health care needs a similar systems-integration approach."

Read the full commentary, "The Need for Systems Integration in Health Care," at JAMA.


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