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Health IT-Related Patient Safety Events is Top Flaw in Medical Device Networking

Medical device networks are a complicated and critical piece of health IT infrastructure. If the network fails, patient safety is in danger. Health related IT events were the cause of 45 percent of 1.7 million patient safety events without a resolution according to a study published by the Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management.

Lack of communication between IT and biomedical departments contributes to patient related safety issues. Frost and Sullivan recently conducted a virtual think tank, Best Practices for Patient Monitoring Networks Across the IT and Biomedical Departments, to determine best practices for managing patient monitoring networks.

 The panelists included thought leaders from IT and biomedical departments from hospitals and vendors. Most respondents agreed maintaining medical device uptime and connectivity was important and network connectivity was a critical measure for their facilities’ IT infrastructure and necessary for patient care.

Over half do not have systems or protocols in place to monitor their medical device networks. Only half the respondents felt that the biomedical departments were responsible for maintaining medical device assets and that patient monitoring networks fell under a shared responsibility with clinical engineering. Bridging the gap between IT and biomedical departments and developing proactive monitoring processes will help with delivering faster problem resolutions.

One of the panelists, a senior director of healthcare services at GE stated, “Failures are sometimes due to simple things, like an IT department upgrading switches or performing patches that take down the network for the monitoring equipment. So, it is essential to have a tight relationship between IT and Biomedical where it is second nature to update each other. These are not just standard IT networks that you can patch if there’s a problem.”

The study concluded that, “ensuring health information technology-related events are resolved and incorporate effective solutions should be a continued focus area for healthcare systems.”

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About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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