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Medical Technology and Malpractice: Are we Shooting the Messenger?

Published on 30 August 16
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Medical malpractice covers a lot of things, but in general terms, it is the third leading cause of death in the United States, the Washington Post recently reported. It’s crazy to think that the carelessness of medical professionals has reached a level of commonality that it’s ranked so high in these terms, but unfortunately those are what the facts say. It’s important, of course, that we do all we can to stop it. However I want to ask a question: with all of the advanced technology in the medical industry, do we ever blame the doctor when we should be blaming faulty technology? Are we shooting the messenger?


And undoubtedly, while technology has helped the medical industry make amazing strides, failures and misdiagnoses aren't out of the question. While some would view this as a no brainer, another question may be raised: Is it medical malpractice to trust faulty technology?


Shooting the Messenger

Is it the fault of the person using the technology or the one who created it incorrectly? Can we know the insides of each case? While I believe in holding a practitioner responsible for their mistakes - I believe it's also important to ask how we define "medical malpractice" in these cases. If a doctor does everything they can by the book and their best instinct, and something doesn't work out, it's obviously not medical malpractice. And if the blame is on trusted machinery that was designed poorly, the fault does not seem to be on the doctor.



Trusting Faulty Technology

Of course, a doctor is just doing what they can and often what they're taught to. So misdiagnosis is often machine related, but if machines are not kept up or are used improperly that responsibility seems to fall on the doctor, does it not? In these cases, I believe it would be fair to sue for medical malpractice. However, the real question is how to know? That will always be a gray line.


I know different people will have their own opinions on this, and I’d love to hear yours. Let me hear it over on Twitter!

Medical Technology and Malpractice: Are we Shooting the Messenger? - Image 1





Medical malpractice covers a lot of things, but in general terms, it is the third leading cause of death in the United States, the Washington Post recently reported. It’s crazy to think that the carelessness of medical professionals has reached a level of commonality that it’s ranked so high in these terms, but unfortunately those are what the facts say. It’s important, of course, that we do all we can to stop it. However I want to ask a question: with all of the advanced technology in the medical industry, do we ever blame the doctor when we should be blaming faulty technology? Are we shooting the messenger?

And undoubtedly, while technology has helped the medical industry make amazing strides, failures and misdiagnoses aren't out of the question. While some would view this as a no brainer, another question may be raised: Is it medical malpractice to trust faulty technology?

Shooting the Messenger

Is it the fault of the person using the technology or the one who created it incorrectly? Can we know the insides of each case? While I believe in holding a practitioner responsible for their mistakes - I believe it's also important to ask how we define "medical malpractice" in these cases. If a doctor does everything they can by the book and their best instinct, and something doesn't work out, it's obviously not medical malpractice. And if the blame is on trusted machinery that was designed poorly, the fault does not seem to be on the doctor.

Trusting Faulty Technology

Of course, a doctor is just doing what they can and often what they're taught to. So misdiagnosis is often machine related, but if machines are not kept up or are used improperly that responsibility seems to fall on the doctor, does it not? In these cases, I believe it would be fair to sue for medical malpractice. However, the real question is how to know? That will always be a gray line.

I know different people will have their own opinions on this, and I’d love to hear yours. Let me hear it over on Twitter!

Medical Technology and Malpractice: Are we Shooting the Messenger? - Image 1

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  1. 31 August 16
    1

    Robert, I would think that the answer to your question would depend on whether the doctor was the buyer of the defective technology or not. If he/she were the buyer (s)he'd have the responsibility to test the technology thoroughly and understand its limitations before acquiring it for use on patients. If (s)he didn't do that I'd say the doctor is at fault in that instance. But if the doctor is merely an employee at a hospital, and (s)he was asked to use the technology without being involved in the pre or post purchase evaluation process, then (assuming that the technology was used as per the supplier's operating instructions) I would think there would be no professional liability there. The hospital, though, would need to be asked all those questions about the basis on which they introduced the technology for use on patients.

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