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Rush Medical Seeks $18M for Defective Patient Monitoring System

Rush University Medical Center is suing Draeger Inc. for over $18 million after its patient monitoring system allegedly proved a threat to patient safety.

Patient Monitoring Technology

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Rush University Medical Center is suing the developer of its $18-million patient monitoring system for fraud after the system allegedly proved defective.

On August 18, the medical center filed the complaint in federal court accusing Draeger Inc. of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud over the Infinity Acute Monitoring Solution Rush spent four years installing. 

The patient monitoring system was intended to monitor the breathing, vital signs, and other medical conditions of all patients at its 664 bed hospital and academic medical center.

Rush sought proposals for a monitoring system in 2010, outlined its technical requirements, and requested that prospective vendors submit information verifying whether their product offerings complied with the specifications.

According to the complaint, Rush and Draeger officials discussed the patient monitoring system extensively between the spring of 2010 and June of 2011.

The medical center claimed Draeger promised “software updates could easily be pushed out over Rush’s network and implemented by Rush personnel.”

On June 13, 2011, Rush and Draeger signed a purchase agreement to install the system on a rolling basis over the next four years.

However, the technology “was marked by inaccurate and unreliable alarming, erratic shifts in alarm settings and sudden erasures of patient log data,” Rush alleges.

“The system also failed to provide key promised features, including wired-to-wireless monitoring required for patient transport, and monitoring for de-saturation of neo-natal patients’ blood oxygen,” added Rush officials.

Rush stated these problems posed an alleged threat to patient safety and required Rush employees to waste time trying to fix operational complications. Furthermore, the medical center stated Draeger wrongfully blamed Rush for the problems.

While Rush noted that Draeger did admit the software upgrade was time consuming and disruptive, the hospital alleges that the health IT company failed to fix the problems. Additionally, Rush contends its vendor partner introduced new problems by sporadically erasing patient information.

In the fall of 2017, Rush stated it would be forced to purchase a new system due to growing patient safety concerns. While the medical center expected Draeger’s technology to last at least ten years, the patient monitoring system barely lasted five years.

The new system Rush needed to implement cost over $30 million—even more when accounting for the staff time lost attempting to keep the Draeger system in functioning order.

Rush stated one of the primary reasons for its selection of the patient monitoring system was the its advertised ability to use its existing infrastructure to provide fill wired-to-wireless monitoring.

According to the health IT company’s statements prior to implementation, the system was capable of monitoring patients as they moved from a bedside monitor to a portable, battery-operated system during transfer.

However, Draeger’s system did not operate as guaranteed, Rush alleges, and failed to deliver the functionalities Draeger officials had promised after obtaining specifications of Rush’s wireless network.

The patient monitoring system was designed to deliver four main products: bedside monitors, larger data aggregating monitors at central nursing stations, battery-powered portable monitors, and M300 wireless patient-worn monitors.

According to Rush allegations, the portable monitors were incapable of collecting full data when transported to wireless networks, and frequently stole internet protocol addresses from bedside monitors rather than self-assign an available IP address. Without a nurse around to check to make sure a bedside monitor was still online, a patient could be left unmonitored at a central station.

Other frequent problems included nuisance alarms for blood oxygen levels in neonatal patients, inaccurate heart arrhythmia monitoring for patients with pacemakers, and other issues.

Additionally, some essential cables were unexpectedly fragile and required frequent replacement.

Rush seeks $18 million as well as payment of punitive damages and legal fees from Draeger as a result of the incident. 

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