what are the top 10 health technology hazards for 2014

A few weeks back, the ECRI Institute, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit dedicated to “promoting the highest standards of safety, quality and cost-effectiveness in health care,” released its annual report identifying the 10 health technology hazards for 2014.

This must-read item was developed by a host of scientific professionals — physicians, nurses, engineers, scientists, patient safety advocates, etc. — and covers a rather broad spectrum of technological concerns in the medical realm, including two topics that have made the list for the first time.

“Technology safety can often be overlooked,” says the vice president of health technology evaluation and safety at the ECRI Institute. “Based on our experience, there are serious safety problems that need to be addressed.”

What then are the top 10 technology hazards of 2014?

10. Retained surgical instruments: Unfortunately, a series of documented medical mistakes involving surgical instruments being left behind prompted the ECRI to include this hazard on the list for the first time since 2010. Affected patients are at risk of not only having to undergo additional surgery to remove the instrument, but also suffering potentially serious and irreversible medical complications in the time leading up the discovery of the foreign object (infection, tissue damage, etc.).

9. Robotic surgery: While robotic surgery devices promise smaller incisions, greater accuracy and shorter recovery times, the ECRI reports that suppliers of these devices often provide only generalized training to surgeons as opposed to training on specialized procedures. Thus, patients are put at great risk when a hospital fails to verify that its surgeons possess the skill and experience needed to perform specific surgical procedures.

8. Pediatric patients and adult medical technology: The ECRI indicates that pediatric care can be seriously compromised when medical technology otherwise meant for adults is not adapted to meet the size and other unique physiological needs of children.

7. Upgrades to devices and systems: While advancements in modern medical technology coupled with advancements in hospital computer systems have served to both improve and streamline patient care, the ECRI reports that system inoperability caused by improper updates, upgrades or modifications can cause unforeseen and significant problems. Specifically, a failed upgrade on a facility-wide PC operating system could conceivably jeopardize the functioning of machinery otherwise critical to patient care.

6. Failure to properly reprocess endoscopic devices/surgical instruments: The ECRI report states that the failure to abide by established multi-step processes for cleaning, disinfecting and/or sterilizing endoscopic devices and surgical instruments can result in significant harm to patients, including potentially deadly infections.

To be continued …

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that some type of hospital negligence may have played a role in your serious personal injuries or the loss of a loved one. Together, you can discuss your rights and your options for seeking the justice you need and deserve.

Source: Eweek, “Data integrity, networked devices among top health IT hazards for 2014,” Nathan Eddy, Nov. 29, 2013; Outpatient Surgery News, “Top 10 health technology hazards revealed,” Daniel Cook, Nov. 5, 2013

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