Nurses believe medical errors could be reduced if the medical devices hospitals rely on for testing, monitoring, and treating patients could seamlessly share information, according to results of a new national survey.

According to the survey of more than 500 nurses conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, half of the nurses said they witnessed a medical error resulting from a lack of coordination among medical devices in a hospital setting.

Devices include everything from infusion pumps, ventilators, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs to electronic health records. The weighted survey was conducted online by Harris Poll from January 7-16, 2015 and included 526 nurses (credentialed at RN or higher and with an education of BSN or higher) who work full-time in a non-school setting.

[Related Survey: Nurses Not Included in Hospital EHR Planning]

Among the nurses surveyed, three in five (60 percent) said medical errors could be significantly reduced if medical devices were connected and shared data with each other automatically. Nearly half of the nurses surveyed – 46 percent – said an error is extremely or very likely to occur when information must be manually transcribed from one device to another.

But perhaps even more important, a large majority said transcribing data is a profound waste of time – more than two out of three (69 percent) said manually transcribing data is very likely to take time away from patients who need attention.

Other key survey findings include:

*74 percent of these nurses (strongly/somewhat) agreed it is burdensome to coordinate the data collected by medical devices

*93 percent (strongly/somewhat) agreed medical devices should be able to seamlessly share data with one another automatically

*Half (50 percent) said they have witnessed a medical error because of lack of device coordination

The Gary and Mary West Health Institute is an independent, nonprofit medical research organization that works with healthcare providers and research institutions to create new, more cost-effective ways of delivering high-quality care. It is wholly funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West.

The survey report is available here.

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