Does technology get in the way?

With all the changes we have everyday in healthcare and how we perform our jobs, I often wonder how many of these technological changes get in the way of patient care.  We have pumps to infuse at the correct rate instead of counting drips, we have machines that take vital signs for us instead of listening with our stethoscopes.
But when a new IV pump comes along, we have to have in-services and emails and hand outs and super users in our faces making sure we know how to use them.  But then when we use them it sometimes takes a while to figure it out.

Last week I was out helping on the floor.  I was helping pass meds on a patient that needed IV antibiotics and a new maintenance IV fluid hung.  I was trying to scan the meds in to the medication administration system and continued to get error messages and problem after problem…I don’t think it was the system that was the problem, I was the problem since it had been so long since I had to pass meds.

In fact, the patient asked me if everything was alright!

I finally got them all scanned in and then had problems with the pump.  By the time I got the meds going it had taken me like 15 minutes.  Now I know 15 minutes is not a huge amount of time, but if I had five patients it would take me almost a hour and a half to pass my meds.

So, did the technology slow me down?  Maybe a little, but it was probably me not remembering how to use it appropriately.  Would it have been faster if I would have not had to scan the meds?  Probably, but the real question is would it have been safer…..probably not.

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