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Lansing, Michigan

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Diego Avila
Diego Avila
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Johns Hopkins To Use Engineering And Families To Reduce Medical Error

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Johns Hopkins is embarking on a quest that will bring together engineering insight and family cohesiveness in an attempt to reduce the risk of medical error in hospitals. Their goal is ambitious, yet entirely logical. Those spearheading this movement want to make a hospital function more like a car's dashboard. Think about it, your dashboard tells you much about the health of your car, when it needs an oil change, when your tires might be low on air, whether someone forgot to buckle their seatbelt, or if a door has been left slightly open.

This concept of prevention and checklists mirrors that of NASA's checkdown system as a rocket prepares for launch. The purpose of this paradigm shift is to remove the complete onus on a single (or handful) of caretakers who have the responsibility of remembering dozens, if not hundreds of steps, without effective ways of recognizing whether one of the steps has been overlooked.

Part of the problem up until now has been the fact that families and patients themselves are those in the best position to identify a problem in the well-oiled machine that is hospital care. However, far too often they have been treated as bystanders, or even worse, as obstacles to care.

This movement is backed by some heavy hitters, including Intel's co-founder, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering. Having the movement occur at Johns Hopkins isn't a bad place to start either. The emphasis will be on increasing communication between medical staff and patients and families. That way, if there is pertinent previous medical history that patients and families have, medical professionals will go through the requisite steps to make sure they receive it.