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Tech startup developing software to stop serious surgical errors

Current medical procedures often separate patients in Iowa from surgical safety protocols. To help get patients more involved in the clinical steps prior to surgeries, a surgeon with 38 years of experience founded SafeStart Medical. The cloud-based system, which uses mobile applications, asks patients to review the administrative steps that create surgical plans.

Patients and clinicians both review and approve clinical records, consent forms and scheduled surgeries. The goal of the software is to prevent serious errors classified as “never events.” Examples of never events are surgeries performed on the wrong body part or an organ transplant that involves the wrong organ. Every year, roughly 8,000 to 10,000 patients suffer these medical mistakes. The founder of SafeStart Medical said that 50 percent or more of never events happen because of communication errors.

SafeStart software remains in the research phase. Three studies using prototype systems are taking place at a children’s hospital, orthopedics department and VA hospital. The data collected by this field research will determine the influence the safety software has on surgical outcomes.

Health care workers have a duty to deliver care according to recognized standards. Communication errors that produce medical harm might fall into the category of medical malpractice. Other cases of negligence might include a failure to diagnose, anesthesia error or administration of the wrong medicine. A person hurt by a medical mistake must meet certain legal standards to show medical negligence. However, legal counsel could provide insights into the viability of a lawsuit. An attorney could seek out an independent medical opinion to build a case and then confront the responsible health care provider with a claim for damages.

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