Technology and patient safety: a two-edged sword

Biomed Instrum Technol. 2002 Mar-Apr;36(2):84-8. doi: 10.2345/0899-8205(2002)36[84:TAPSAT]2.0.CO;2.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is now the world's largest funder of patient safety research. Part of AHRQ's research focus is to examine evidence to help determine which technologies can be used to effectively minimize harm and improve patient safety. The report of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). To Err is Human stressed the importance of automating repetitive, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks through the use of technology. While automation holds substantial promise for improved safety, error experts caution that all technology introduces the potential for new and different errors. It is critical that any new automated system be tested in actual operational settings to determine what, if any, unanticipated failures exist. Field-based research is essential in the emerging field of patient safety to create the evidence as to which technologies actually improve patient safety and those that may well increase the potential for harm.

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Safety / methods*
  • Equipment Safety / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Laboratory Science / instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Science / methods
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Safety Management*
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality*