Technology has had a vast impact on a wide range of industries over the last few decades, with the medical field being no exception. Innovation is not only a driving force in advancing the impact of medical procedures and the ongoing search for cures to chronic disease and illness; technological advances are also laying the groundwork for stronger patient protection as it relates to prescription safety and medical adherence.
One powerful example of the use of technology in medical mistake prevention is seen through the FDA’s recent approval of Proteus Digital Health, Inc.’s ingestible medical sensor. Proteus was developed to be ingested as a pill, with the actual sensor no larger than a grain of salt. The ingested technology works together with a wearable patch adhered to a patient’s midsection, and collects data that is used to monitor treatment. The sensor dissolves after ingested and the corresponding patch gathers data on the patient’s vital signs, including heart rate, steps taken throughout the day, time at rest and time of medication ingestion. When used in marriage with a doctor prescribed treatment plan, Proteus has the potential to reduce issues that arise when medication adherence is low or when the errors in prescriptions are in play.
The Risk of Medication Errors
A study conducted by the American Medical Association cites adverse reactions to drug intake as one of the leading causes of patient deaths within the United States. Part of the issue lies in non-adherence to prescribed medications, but the other relevant factor often comes down to prescribing errors from doctors, nurses or pharmacists. Research within a New Jersey hospital system highlights the latter issue, reporting that out of nearly 10,000 prescriptions filled, more than 1,300 mistakes were found. That’s the equivalent of one in every eight medications prescribed. Proteus was designed to assist in reducing both of these pressing concerns.
Medication mistakes have the potential to create chaos for a patient’s health. Taking the wrong prescription, whether it be altogether incorrect or an inaccurate dosage can lead to fatal interference with other medications being taken. Additionally, incorrect prescriptions can result in a prescribed treatment not working to ease symptoms as it should. According to a firm of medical solicitors in the UK, the most prevalent claims brought against pharmacies and prescribing doctors include the following devastating errors:
- Fulfilling a prescription with a different medication than prescribed
- Fulfilling the wrong dosage of a prescription
- Using unsafe materials when filling a prescription
- Medication mixing in incorrect forms or amounts
- Unnoticed errors in medication labeling or dosage
- Not providing education or instruction when a prescription is picked up
Prescription medication errors lead to endangered patient health which ultimately results in a higher cost of care across the board. Patients who receive incorrect prescriptions may face additional treatments due to adverse reactions or the illusion that the initial treatment is defunct in correcting the initial disease or illness.
A Solution in Technology
In an era when adherence to medical treatment is low and medication mistakes are a continuous issue, the ability to track patient health data is increasingly important. Devices such as Proteus offer a hint of a solution to the growing problem of medication non-adherence that is only compounded by the occurrence of prescription medication mistakes. Currently, the ingestible sensor offered by Proteus provides some solace to patients battling mental illness, but other innovative solutions are coming to the market to assist in the monitoring process for treatment of diseases such as COPD and Asthma. As more patients and health providers embrace the digital advancement of medical treatment and its monitoring, there is a great deal of hope that concerns surrounding medication adherence and the adverse effects of prescription errors decline over time.