Electronic Intensive Care Unit Technology (eICU)
The increasing use of electronic Intensive Care Unit technology (eICU) has changed the medical landscape in many ways. Many hospital systems routinely use cameras in the ICU to monitor patients. This means instead of an actual doctor physically examining patients, a caregiver only checks in on them via camera remotely. Information about these practices became much more public in the medical malpractice documentary “Bleed Out.”
In an eICU, the patient’s electronic vital signs and cardiac monitoring are viewed by video camera. Caregivers watching these monitors are located at remote sites (sometimes over 100 miles away) and may have 50 to 100 intensive care patients to monitor at a time. Many argue this use of telemedicine does not sufficiently replace a physician’s visit – especially for patients in circumstances so dire they’re in intensive care. Electronic monitoring in tele-ICUs makes unknown off-site caregivers responsible for patient care instead of onsite doctors.
eICUs have been commonly used for nearly a decade, including at some major medical centers. The average patient and his or her family may not even realize this type of intensive care unit functionality has been used, as it is not apparent in medical records and patients are generally kept in the dark about being monitored remotely. And despite hospitals trying to argue these practices have improved care, no data exists showing improved outcomes.
Concern among patient safety advocates continues to grow, as evidence mounts indicating eICUs in fact do not raise the level of care, as promised. While hospitals and other healthcare facilities tout this variation on remote telemedicine as safer and an improvement in care, for an ICU patient, a lapse in care of even just a few minutes can result in devastating consequences.
More than 300 hospitals in at least 40 healthcare systems throughout 34 states use eICU services, with urban hospitals most likely to utilize a tele-ICU as these areas have better access to the necessary high-speed Internet services.
Philadelphia Intensive Care Unit Malpractice Lawyers
While patients may want to believe their medical providers when they insist eICU services are superior, there is not yet data to support those claims. If you or a family member were injured, misdiagnosed, or died due to medical mistakes made involving eICU and/or telemedicine technology, do not hesitate to take action. Our team of hospital negligence attorneys will help your family through this difficult time, so contact us today.