People go to hospitals to get better and to be taken care of. Unfortunately, patients are vulnerable to medication errors while in hospitals. Sometimes, medical professionals fill the wrong dosage of drug or even the wrong medication into intravenous (IV) drug-delivery systems. When this happens, patients can suffer harmful side-effects, debilitating injuries, or even death as a result of human error.
Because many hospital patients are accidentally harmed by wrong medications and too high of dosages, companies are designing drug administration systems to help make delivering medications to patients safer. Recently, Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) designed a system to help patients receive their intravenous medications through a safer process; however, this system cannot tell if the correct drug is actually being delivered to patients. Additionally, the SERS system does not know if the correct concentration of medication has been added to an IV.
Although systems are being created that can help deliver precise volumes of medications to patients, there is still room for humans to make mistakes and add the wrong drug or wrong dosage to the IV. For this reason, a team of electrical and computer engineering students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) developed an optical device that would be able to recognize the contents of the IV fluids in real-time. With this new capability, patient safety will be improved since the identity of the IV contents will be identified. Hopefully, the drug error rate in hospitals would decrease and patient safety would increase with improvements like this one.