ECRI Institute Releases Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Report for 2013


While todays health technology advances provide countless new ways to improve patient care, some also create new opportunities for harm.  And with the evolution of healthcare information technology systems such as electronic health records (EHRs), theres a growing level of complexity and opportunity for error.
To help healthcare providers minimize the risk of technology-related adverse events, ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, announces the release of its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list for 2013. The 24-page report is available as a free download with registration.

Now in its sixth year of publication, the annual Top 10 list is designed to raise awareness of the potential dangers associated with the use of medical devices and systems. A popular roadmap for healthcare providers to prioritize their technology safety initiatives, the list features key topics that warrant particular attention for the coming year with actionable recommendations on addressing them.  

Five of the top 10 hazards explained in ECRI Institutes report are: 

1.  Alarm hazards
2.  Medication administration errors using infusion pumps
3.  Unnecessary radiation exposures and radiation burns during diagnostic radiology procedures
4.  Patient/data mismatches in EHRs and other health IT (HIT) systems
5.  Interoperability failures with medical devices and health IT systems
Three of the 10 topics on the 2013 list are directly associated with the still-maturing health IT field where the interplay between complexity and effectiveness and potential harm is most evident; several of the other topics are peripherally related to HIT issues.

The inherent complexity of HIT-related medical technologies, their potential to introduce new failure modes, and the possibility that such failures will affect many patients before being noticedcombined with federal incentives to meet Meaningful Use requirementsleads us to encourage healthcare facilities to pay particular attention to health IT when prioritizing their safety initiatives for 2013, says James P. Keller, Jr., vice president, health technology evaluation and safety, ECRI Institute.
The rest of the list is as follows:

6. Air embolism hazards

7. Inattention to the needs of pediatric patients when using adult technologies

8. Inadequate reprocessing of endoscopic devices and surgical instruments

9. Caregiver distractions from smartphones and other mobile devices

10. Surgical fires
The hazards included in the 2013 list, published in the November 2012 issue of ECRI Institutes Health Devices journal, met one or all of the following criteria: it has resulted in injury or death; it has occurred frequently; it can affect a large number of individuals; it is difficult to recognize; its had high-profile, widespread news coverage. Lastly, there must be clear steps for hospitals to take now to minimize these risks. 

Complementing the annual list is ECRI Institutes web-based Health Technology Hazard Self-Assessment Tool, which provides a facility or department risk factor ratings of low, medium, or high related to each of the Top 10 hazards. Healthcare organizations can then use the information to help prioritize their efforts to address the hazards. The tool also provides facility- and department-specific recommendations for mitigating the risks associated with each of the Top 10 hazards.   

The Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list is updated each year based upon the prevalence and severity of incidents reported to ECRI Institute by healthcare facilities nationwide; information found in the Institutes medical device problem reporting databases; and the judgment, analysis, and expertise of the organizations multidisciplinary staff.

Healthcare professionals can obtain the complete 2013 list and its recommendations at no cost by using the following link:
Source: ECRI Institute

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