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PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. -- ECRI announces the launch of its ECRI Alerts Tracker, the first-ever online hazard and recall management system. Long regarded as the healthcare industry's most comprehensive source of hazard and recall information available, ECRI developed the new system to help hospitals handle the more than 500 recalls issued by medical device manufacturers each year, as well as hundreds of other hazard and safety notices.
The number of recalls issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has increased by 42 percent in the last four years (1), making it increasingly challenging for hospitals to manage all the information and ensure that recalls reach the right staff members. The potential for patient harm and even death as a result of a missed product recall underscores the need to improve the way this critical information is distributed to and implemented within hospitals. Often, recall notices are sent to the wrong address, distributed to the wrong person within a hospital, or contain incomplete information. It can be a daunting process for already-understaffed hospitals to decipher this information, determine what should be done, and document their actions appropriately.
ECRI Alerts Tracker is the first and only online tool that automates the hazard and recall management process from beginning to end. The system quickly relays hazard and recall alerts throughout the hospital via automated weekly e-mails containing information customized to each staff member's clinical/professional area and individual preferences. E-mail recipients can quickly review their assigned alerts, note whether the alerts apply to them, and update online records of actions taken to resolve each alert. Hospital administrators and patient safety professionals can access online real-time usage reports and to-do lists that show individual and hospital-wide actions taken to resolve critical issues, making it easier to comply with Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requirements for managing hazard and recall information.
To ensure Alerts Tracker met the needs of hospital administrators, ECRI incorporated feedback from an advisory group of pilot hospitals throughout the development process.
"Just the ability to document who I sent recall information to makes this product worthwhile," says South Jersey Healthcare's Mike Mastro, a pilot user. "Alerts Tracker gives my staff the specific information they need, and they are more responsive to the information because they know it pertains to them."
"Initial response to the Tracker has been terrific," says Anthony J. Montagnolo, ECRI's chief operating officer and executive vice president. "With the Alerts Tracker in place, our members will have a great solution to the product hazard and recall morass they encounter. The Tracker not only improves patient safety and accountability, but also dramatically reduces the paperwork burden every hospital now faces."
ECRI's alerts content draws from a variety of national and international patient safety organizations, ECRI product evaluations, member hospital reports, and accident and forensic investigations, in addition to FDA Enforcement Report data and manufacturer notices. ECRI verifies the recall information, clarifying complex language and product names if necessary, then adds expert advice about the steps hospitals should take to resolve the recall or hazard alert. Recommended action priorities also help hospitals determine which alerts require immediate resolution so that they can make the most of limited resources.
ECRI Alerts Tracker is available only to members of ECRI's Health Devices System, Health Devices Gold, and SELECTplus healthcare technology advisory services. Included in a one-year ECRI Alerts Tracker license are two interactive training sessions to ensure that users can effectively implement the product throughout the hospital.
ECRI, a nonprofit international health services research agency, is a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and an Evidence-based Practice Center, as designated by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI provides information and technical assistance to the healthcare community to support safe and cost-effective patient care.
(1) Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2003