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New Computer To Help Cut Hospital Mistakes

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A new computer being launched in the UK today could be the key to eliminating some of the 40,000 mistakes made each year in NHS hospitals*, its makers said.

The Panasonic CF-H1 Toughbook Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) has been developed in conjunction with NHS nurses to give them wireless access to patient notes at the bedside - spelling the end of the clipboard at the end of each bed.

But as well as allowing hospital nurses to access up-to-the-minute electronic patient records, the rugged handheld computer also has a series of security features aimed at minimising the room for human error on high-pressure wards.

Jon Tucker, product head for the MCA at Panasonic, said: "Hundreds of mistakes are estimated to be made in hospitals every week at the moment, either through poor communication or basic human error. 

"Nurses are often required to memorise information, like changes to medication, then input the details into a computer off the ward afterwards which can result in delays in data input or forgotten information.

"Disjointed communication with other departments and between shift workers has also been a cause of mistakes in treatment.

"This computer enables nurses to update a patient's central records at the bedside during ward rounds, dramatically reducing the potential for mistakes."

In addition, the MCA enables other clinical staff such as doctors and pharmacists to check up-to-date medical history at patients' bedsides, leading to them making quicker and better-informed decisions, Mr Tucker added.

And to cut out any room for misreading labels, the Panasonic device is also able to read bar codes and hi-tech contactless RFID tags to further ensure that the right treatment is given to the correct patient at all times.

The Toughbook MCA has been developed to coincide with the Department of Health's drive to create state-of-the-art paperless clinical environments for the NHS by 2015, under its National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

As part of the initiative, the NHS will move away from paper-based patient records both in GP surgeries and hospital wards towards instantly accessible care records in clinics and at the bedside - cutting the amount of time spent updating paper files and improving the accuracy of patient records.

Mr Tucker added: "This may be one device, but it is part of a much bigger plan to completely modernise the NHS.

"People have been talking about creating paper-free wards for quite some time, but this computer at last makes achieving that a realistic possibility right now.

"We have worked very hard with scores of nurses up and down the country in all kinds of specialisms to make this product a tool that can help them be more efficient at doing their jobs. The result, we believe, is a product that can really deliver all that nurses want, and bring hospital wards into the 21st Century.

"After all, they are the people who want to use these computers, and they know best what is needed most in order to improve the treatment and experience of patients."

Barbara Stuttle CBE, the National Clinical Lead for Nursing at NHS Connecting for Health, led a team of nurses to help develop the new technology to suit their needs.

She said: "Nurses are under increasing pressure to deliver first rate patient care and with increasing demands on their time they need access to efficient equipment.

"MCAs are invaluable tools and nurses have welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the development of this new hardware. It can support them in their practice and can also help address the issue of infection control, which remains a priority for clinicians and ultimately patients."

Panasonic Toughbook® CF-H1 Product features

  • Shockproof - capable of withstanding drops of up to 3ft (higher than hospital bed height)
  • Lightweight (1.5kg)
  • Long battery life (6 hours) and twin hot-swappable batteries which allow non-stop computing on the move
  • Self-clean mode which prompts the user to clean it- a key weapon in the fight against infection.
  • Slot-less Smartcard Reader to maintain cleanliness and keep patient data secure.
  • Fully sealed unit for easy cleaning and fan-less (i.e. low surface temperature and prevents cleaning issues with vents and internal workings)
  • Wireless functions including a 3G mobile broadband HSPA connection, Bluetooth and RFID reader
  • 2 megapixel camera for quick capture of patient information
  • GPS for panic button function
  • 2D barcode reader


For further details, please visit www.toughbook.eu



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* Figures from National Patient Safety Agency NPSA


Further details on the Panasonic Toughbook range can be found at http://www.toughbook.eu


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About Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 9.07 trillion yen (US$90.7 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2008. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE Symbol: PC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at http://panasonic.net/.