Research Article | Open Access
Developing Unique Engineering Solutions to Improve Patient Safety
Many efforts to improve healthcare safety have focused on redesigning processes of care or retraining clinicians. Far less attention has been focused on the use of new technologies to improve safety. We present the results of a unique collaboration between the VA National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS) and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Each year, the NCPS identifies safety problems across the VA that could be addressed with newly-engineered devices. Teams of Thayer students and faculty participating in a senior design course evaluate and engineer a solution for one of the problems. Exemplar projects have targeted surgical sponge retention, nosocomial infections, surgical site localization, and remote monitoring of hospitalized patients undergoing diagnostic testing and procedures. The program has served as an avenue for engineering students and health care workers to solve problems together. The success of this academic-clinical partnership could be replicated in other settings.
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