Scientists are Testing out More Procedures on Virtual Patients
The medical and scientific community is rapidly developing virtual patients for the testing of procedures that can’t be used on real patients.
Usually medical innovations undergo numerous trials before they are approved for use in people. But, in some cases this level of testing cannot be carried out because of the risks to patients.
“ Medical testing, for example, is rarely done in children and pregnant women due to worries about what a procedure could do to a growing body,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The solution, according to the Wall Street Journal, is virtual patients who are “realistic-looking computerized models”
Scientists are using computer software and medical data as well as graphics to create virtual patients, down to the skin, bones, fat and organs.
image from a virtual patient
It’s unclear if there are dangers involved in the increased use of virtual technology. It’s possible doctors could develop procedures that caused few problems on virtual patients but have side effects in real ones. There’s also the danger that doctors will become further removed from their patients in the same way as pilots have from flying planes.
A study published in August found “automation addiction” by pilots was impacting their abilities and could be leading to more crashes caused by pilot error.
However, it’s also possible that more research on virtual patients could help prevent real ones becoming surgical guinea pigs; a claim that’s leveled by attorneys representing patients who are suing DePuy and Johnson & Johnson over hip transplants that they say were faulty.
Medical malpractice and faulty devices used in surgery remain a major area of concern. Our Norfolk, VA based attorneys recently wrote about how a man was awarded $275,000 after doctors left a large surgical towel in him after an operation.
While we are hopeful more research on virtual patients could improve the safety of medical procedures in the future, we are yet to be convinced.