what are the top 10 health technology hazards for 2014 ii

Last time, our blog discussed how the Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute recently released its eagerly anticipated report documenting the top 10 health technology hazards for 2014.

Developed by a host of scientific professionals, this report serves as warning to prospective patients and a wake-up call to hospitals across the nation. While the latter half of the list contained some real surprises concerning hospital safety, the top five are nothing less than shocking.

5. Hybrid ORs and radiation exposure: For those unfamiliar with hybrid ORs, they are essentially operating rooms/surgical suites outfitted with medical imaging devices (CT scanners, MRI scanners, etc.) designed to facilitate minimally invasive surgeries. Here, the ECRI warns that inexperience and a lack of knowledge concerning the equipment used in these facilities might result in staff — not patients — being regularly exposed to dangerous radiation.

4. Electronic health records: While more and more hospitals are turning to electronic health records, touting them as a more affordable and more reliable alternative to paper files, the ECRI points out that EHRs are by no means immune to potential problems. For example, a data transmission error, software glitch or cyber attack could all compromise a patient’s treatment.

3. Pediatric patients and exposure to CT radiation: The ECRI warns that pediatric patients are often exposed to dangerously high doses of ionizing radiation during CT scans, something that can — and must — be prevented by providing staff with the requisite training.

2. Infusion/drug pumps: While these devices, which can be found in the hundreds and perhaps even the thousands at some hospitals, would appear to be relatively safe, the ECRI institute identifies them as presenting a very serious risk to patients. That’s because a malfunctioning pump or a pump that is improperly programmed by staff can result in a patient’s being given a wrong — and potentially lethal — intravenous dose.

1. Alarm hazards: The ECRI once again placed alarm hazards at the top of its list, indicating that hospital staff is so bombarded with unnecessary patient alarms during the standard workday that there is a very real risk that the staff will ignore the alarms either consciously or unconsciously. This, of course, can have deadly consequences for patients.

If a hospital’s failure to provide quality care has caused you or a loved one to suffer unnecessarily, it’s important to remember that you may be able to hold it accountable for this failure. An experienced and compassionate attorney can examine your situation, explain your rights and fight to secure justice on your behalf.

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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