Will Automated IV Systems Reduce Hospital Medication Errors?

When you’re sick enough to the point that you need to make a visit to the hospital, you generally expect and assume that you will be in the best possible hands. However, this isn’t always the case. After all, user error is something that will always just exist because we are imperfect humans, and in busy hospitals where doctors and nurses have a multitude of patients to attend to each day, accidents with administering drugs and setting up manual IVs can happen and wreak havoc on the patient.

With nearly 7,000 deaths and just as many dire illnesses per year caused by errors in manually-prepared IVs, hospitals around the country have begun adopting automated IV systems that reduce, if not eliminate, user error by placing the delicate task in the hands of a machine.

In addition to patient safety of automated IVs, cost-effectiveness is yet another valid reason for hospitals to use this system. With the ability to perform in-house drug compounding and preparation as opposed to buying prefills, millions of dollars can be saved on IVs that are prepared properly in a sterile environment and are complete with an audit trail for the purposes of billing and compliance.

What Sorts of Errors Can Be Prevented with Automated IVs?

Each day, there are people relying on the use of intravenous (IV) medications to improve their health or assist in their healing process. But what happens when someone makes a mistake while administering an IV? There are a plethora of possible errors that can be made by a doctor or nurse simply trying to deliver medicine to their patient:

  • Incorrect Dosage: Delivering the wrong dosage of a medicine can be a fatal mistake. Because the IV goes directly into the patient’s bloodstream, an accidental overdose of their medicine can cause extreme side effects and even death.
  • Incorrect Medicine or Patient: Though both of these issues are obvious in nature and seem like they would be difficult mistakes to make, they happen more often than you may think. Because of the hustle and bustle in hospitals and other treatment centers, it can be easy to intravenously deliver the wrong medication to a patient or even administer the correct medication to the wrong patient when you’re in a hurry.
  • Contamination: When IV compounding is performed in an unsterile area, it is easy for bacteria to invade and contaminate the medication. This can, of course, cause issues of its own by compromising the immune system of a patient already battling an illness.

How Automated IV Systems Work in Hospitals

When a doctor prescribes a medication to be administered to a patient intravenously, they enter it into the pharmacy computer system of the hospital. Generally, the next step is that the order is then transferred into the automated IV system to have the script filled to the specifications of the physician’s prescription.

Having the script sent into the automated IV system not only saves time and streamlines the entire process, but it leaves little room for error in dosage and other details, as well as ensures that no outside germs or bacteria can reach the medicine. When manually filled by a nurse or other medical professional, the environment may not always be completely sterile; even a sterile environment runs the risk of contamination if it has not been properly monitored, which in turn creates risk for the patient. In fact, these automated systems are often built with specific materials that are resistant to the growth of harmful bacteria.

The intelligent automated IV systems have the capability and the bandwidth to be able to compound the mixture, fill IV bags and syringes, and hold inventory racks with rack-specific barcodes for identification purposes. They can even prime the IV bag first to ensure there is no air left in the bag, and there is also room for waste where used materials can be safely deposited.

What Do You Need for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Although hospitals are now rolling out automated systems to be used in administering IV prescriptions, there are plenty of patients who came before this new technological advancement who unfortunately suffered the health consequences of a manual IV gone wrong. So, how do you know if you have a case of medical malpractice worth pursuing?

Depending on what went wrong in regards to the mistake made with your medication, there are different types of adverse drug events (ADEs) by which negative reactions to drugs are classified. Note that one of them concerns an adverse reaction a patient may have to a correctly administered drug, which is not a viable case because of the lack of error.

The two that are the most important in a potential lawsuit are ameliorable ADEs, which are defined as harm experienced by an error that was not “dangerously severe.” The one that is the most concerning and carries the most cause for a case is the preventable ADE; this occurs when a mistake defined as clinically preventable has caused severe harm or death to the patient in question. In these cases, there are legal actions that can be taken to help people who have been put in harm’s way due to the negligence of a medical professional.

Discuss Your Medical Malpractice Case with a Tampa Lawyer

If you have spent time in a hospital or other treatment center and suffered the consequences of someone else’s negligence, you may have a case that will entitle you to compensation. At Distasio Personal Injury Law, our Board Certified medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience in helping people who have been forced to deal with severe side effects or have lost loved ones because of an error regarding their IV medications. We believe that no one should have to bear the weight of that burden alone. Contact Distasio Personal Injury Law in Tampa, FL at (813) 259-0022, and let us use our knowledge and resources to get you the justice you deserve.


Our main office is here in Downtown Tampa, Florida in the Channelside neighborhood. Office in Wesley Chapel and Largo are available by appointment only.

Distasio Law Firm