Push for standardization of technology

Physicians feel that mismatched equipment is getting in the way of patient care.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted July 10, 2006

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Defibrillator connectors and pads should be universal from brand to brand, and consistency standards should be developed for MRI images -- including how the data are presented to physicians, according to policy adopted at the American Medical Association Annual Meeting last month.

These actions were taken in response to complaints that a lack of standardization was interfering with good care and possibly endangering patients.

In the case of defibrillators, physicians complained that a lack of universality meant that moving patients from the site of an incident to the ambulance and then the emergency department took more time than it should because patients often had to be switched from one machine to another. The pads had to be changed as well -- which can be painful for the patient.

Also, having the wrong pads could delay care.

"It's an absolute disaster when you show up at a [cardiac] arrest and the wrong pads are in the crash cart," said John Abenstein, MD, MSEE, an anesthesiologist from Rochester, Minn., who represented his state at the meeting.

The Association wants manufacturers to volunteer to make this change.

In the case of MRI, those in attendance expressed dismay that these images are sometimes delivered on CDs that are not necessarily compatible with their computers and are not always presented in the same sequence.

"The data is brought to us on a CD, but there's not an agreement as to how images are displayed," said Mark Kubala, MD, a delegate from the American Assn. of Neurological Surgeons who proposed the policy. "From a patient safety standpoint, there should be agreement."

The Association intends to convene a meeting with MRI manufacturers, relevant medical specialty societies, and imaging facilities to develop these standards. A report is expected on this issue at next year's Annual Meeting.

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External links

American Medical Association 2006 Annual Meeting (link)

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