When Healthcare Technology is Responsible for Medical Errors

medical errors

It is clear that medical technology has helped humans solve many health issues that could not be handled as well in the past. Technology advancements are part of the miracle of modern medicine. It is also important to remember that healthcare technology is not immune to serious medical errors that injure patients. If a medical error is caused by negligence around healthcare technology, the injured patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries and losses (damages). In many cases, patients are injured by technology while receiving care in a hospital setting. In these cases, a medical malpractice attorney would look for negligent actions by the hospital, a medical professional contracted to work for the hospital, or a manufacturer defect.

When Healthcare Technology is Responsible for Medical Errors

Electronic Medical Records failures

The most common type of healthcare technology today is Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) or Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Doctors’ offices use EMRs every day to store patient health data, vaccine records, and family health histories, as well as record notes from doctor visits. In theory, this is a brilliant system that allows patient health histories to more easily follow them from doctor to doctor and into a hospital setting. Sadly, thousands of patients have been injured due to mishandling and miscommunication around their EHRs. Scientists at University of Utah Health, Harvard University, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found that (EHRs) commonly used in hospitals across the United States fail to detect up to 33% of potentially harmful drug interactions and other medication errors. Even more troubling, tests using simulated medical records found that EHR systems consistently failed to detect errors that could injure or kill patients. When human error is responsible for EMR failures, injured patients may be able to recover damages.

Defective infusion pumps

An infusion pump is a machine used in hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes for delivering potentially life-saving fluids such as nutrition and medication in controlled amounts directly into the patient’s body. It stands to reason that if an error is made in the delivery of these fluids, the consequences to the patient can be dire.

What are the three major problems with infusion pumps?

According to the FDA, the three major things that can cause infusion pump malfunctions are:

  1. Software defects
  2. User interface issues
  3. Mechanical or electrical failures

ECRI Institute argues that every one of these issues is preventable, or that the risk can at least be mitigated with better technology management. When human error or a manufacturing defect is responsible for infusion pump failures, injured patients may be able to recover damages.

Gamma camera defects

Gamma cameras are huge machines found in most U.S. hospitals. They are used to perform full body scans in nuclear medicine applications. Sadly, they have been the subject of many adverse reports made to the FDA for mechanical failures that can cause injury to patents and hospital staff. In 2019, Phillips recalled their Forte Gamma Camera System over fears that it could crush patients. Between January 1998 and December 2008, Philips Medical Systems (Cleveland) recalled 852 of its devices distributed across the United States. In 2015 alone, at least five patients and hospital staffers were injured because of malfunctions in gamma camera imaging devices, according to the ECRI Institute. When human error or a manufacturing defect is responsible for Gamma camera failures, injured patients may be able to recover damages.

Robotic surgery accidents

Surgical robots help surgeons complete many different types of complicated operations with more precision and flexibility than traditional techniques, though a large analysis of robot-assisted surgeries reported in the New York Times found that they provide only modest advantages over other approaches. According to, the FDA received more than 8,000 reports of robotic-surgery malfunctions that led to a total of 144 deaths and 1,391 patient injuries between 2000 and 2013. More complex surgeries such as heart, head, and neck procedures were associated with a higher number of injuries and deaths than surgeries such as gynecological and urological procedures. When human error or a manufacturing defect is responsible for robotic surgery accidents, injured patients may be able to recover damages.

Surgical fires

Surgical fires are not very common but when they do happen, they can cause catastrophic injuries. Surgeries that use supplemental oxygen and procedures involving the head, neck, and upper chest are at a higher risk for surgical fires. According to the ECRI Institute, approximately 550 to 600 surgical fires occur each year. Surgical fires are most often caused by poor communication between the members of the surgical team and failure to identify the patients who may be at risk or to follow defined safety practices. Patients injured by a surgical fire caused by negligence may be able to recover damages.

The Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at (206) 752-4366 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.