TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Old vs. New Doctors -- Communication and Technology

Re: Old vs. New Doctors -- Communication and Technology

Fred Atkinson (
Wed, 9 Feb 2005 20:57:42 -0500

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And since we all know the computer does
> not make mistakes and always is accurate, then whatever the prescription
> calls for has to be the correct medicine. PAT]

I believe they said *less* prone to error, not error free, Pat.

I'm inclined to believe it. There is less error when it is neatly
typed rather than relying on everyone's ability to read everyone
else's handwriting. The computer can also be programmed to ask [and
require answers to] questions that a rushed doctor or nurse might
forget to answer if they were relying on their memory for the right

Back in the sixties, I remember hearing doctors and engineers giving a
reason most of their handwritings were so poor. They claimed it was
because their professors in college went so fast during lectures that
they had to write notes at a very fast rate of speed (which tended to
develop poor penmanship skills). Might be valid in some cases. In
others, it might be just a polite excuse.

The quality of my own handwriting is pretty bad. It was so poor
during my elementary school years that [after receiving numerous
complaints from my teachers] my parents had me examined by a
neurologist. He told them that his testing demonstrated there there
was nothing neurologically wrong with me. He said that some people
just never seem to develop good penmanship skills. So, when I learned
to type (in high school), that was a big step up for me. When the
computer became prevalent, that really took care of the issue
altogether for me.

I don't believe for a minute that the computer makes their work error
free. But I do believe that it probably does *reduce* the likelihood
of mistakes.

Remember that most computers don't make mistakes. More often than
not, it is the fault of the person incorrectly inputting the
information the computer acted upon, the programmer who wrote the
software who coded it in a way that caused a mistake when it processed
the information, or someone else that was involved in the planning
process in the software's development. The latter two can't predict
every eventuality that could possibly result from something that they
weren't able to predict. The former could be in error for a number of
different reasons. This could include bad information, getting
information about one patient confused with another before inputting
it. And it could be a number of other factors. More often, it is the

And it leaves a digital (not paper) trail for the lawyers to follow
when something goes wrong and someone is harmed. Hopefully, that
thought makes the medical folks all a bit more careful in the record
keeping process.

Not errror free. Fewer errors.



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