ecri institute identifies top ten medical technology hazards of 2015

It’s hard to put into words just how much technological developments have changed our lives over the last decade, as what was once thought impossible can now be accomplished in just a few keystrokes or swipes of the finger.

Indeed, from a health perspective we can now use our smartphones for everything from accessing volumes of comprehensive medical information to monitoring basic health functions.

However, it’s important to remember that these technological innovations in the medical realm aren’t just confined to our personal devices and homes, but rather are also present throughout the local hospitals where our friends and family go to receive treatment.

While the majority of these technological developments in the hospital setting have served to enhance patient care, improve prognoses and reduce fatalities, there are some that nevertheless present an elevated risk of accidents and patient harm.

Indeed, the Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute, the independent non-profit dedicated to protecting patients, recently released its much-anticipated 2015 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report outlining ten safety concerns that must be addressed by hospitals in the new year.

As always, the report was compiled by a multidisciplinary team, which carefully analyzed reports and other patient-safety events, and performed its own testing of healthcare technology.

The ten health technology hazards were identified as:

  1. Alarm hazards
  2. Data integrity
  3. Mix-up of IV lines
  4. Inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes/surgical instruments
  5. Ventilator disconnections and mis-set/missed alarms
  6. Patient-handling device use errors/device failures
  7. “Dose creep”
  8. Robotic surgery
  9. Cybersecurity relating to medical devices/systems
  10. Overwhelmed recall/safety alert management programs

“Based on our experience, there are serious safety problems that need to be addressed,” said one official at the ECRI Institute. “[Our report] recommends that hospitals use our list as a guide to help prioritize their technology-related safety initiatives.”

Over the next few posts, our blog will take a closer look at some of the topics on this list, including the steps recommended by the ECRI Institute for minimizing the risks they pose.

If you or a loved one suffered serious and otherwise preventable injuries attributable to hospital negligence, consider speaking with a dedicated legal professional as soon as possible to examine your options going forward.

Source: Infection Control Today, “ECRI Institute announces top 10 health technology hazards for 2015,” Nov. 25, 2014

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