Medical errors in hospitals could be reduced if the medical devices that hospitals rely on to test and monitor patients were connected and interoperable, according to a recent survey of nurses.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll, questioned over 500 nurses, and was commissioned by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The Survey results indicated that a lack of interoperability and connectivity in medical devices contributes to preventable medical errors.

Half of the nurses surveyed reported personally witnessing a medical error due to lack of device coordination. Many of the errors are the result of having to manually transcribe data from one device to another. Manual data entry makes an error extremely likely to occur, said 46% of the respondent nurses.

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The survey also revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they interacted with medical devices at a patient’s bedside and close to half of those surveyed said that working with these devices was the least productive use of their time. Three-quarters of the nurses surveyed reported that it was burdensome to coordinate data from medical devices.

“Nurses are the front line of patient care and have an unrivaled ability to identify and address problems at the intersection of patients and technology,” said Joseph Smith, MD, PhD, FACC, of West Health Institute, in a statement.

“The survey helps show how much of a nurse’s time could be better spent in direct care of patients and families, and how errors could be potentially avoided if medical devices, which have been so successful at improving patient care, were able to take the next step and seamlessly share critical information around the patient’s bedside.”

The majority (93%) of nurses surveyed agreed that medical devices should be able to seamlessly share data with one another automatically.

“It’s time that we free our health-care workers to do what they do best and what they are most needed for, which is caring for patients,” said Smith.

“Let’s not ask busy clinicians to do those things that technology can automate easily and effectively. Medical device interoperability can save lives, time and money, and at the same time allow nurses to focus on caring for patients.”


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  3. Dubinsky L. (2015, March 12). “Interoperability may reduce medical errors but there is a lack of interoperable devices: survey.” DotMed. Retrieved from
  4. West Health Institute. (2015.) Nurses Say Medical Errors Could Be Reduced If Devices Were Connected, West Health Institute Survey Shows. [Press release]. Retrieved from

All electronic resources were last accessed on March 23, 2015.