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Top 10 Healthcare IT Hazards

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 7, 2012

Healthcare leaders should be on special alert for three serious hazards that increasingly threaten both patients and providers with harm, says the ECRI Institute's Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report for 2013.

The three hazards involve electronic health records, health information technology systems, and cell phones and other mobile devices, which can distract healthcare providers from the focus they need for tasks at hand many times an hour.

ECRI Hazards

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As healthcare organizations gain experience with IT systems, they’re encountering ways in which technology can introduce mistakes with far-reaching consequences.  For example, simple errors may result in one patient's test results or prescription orders finding their way into another patient's medical record.

"The biggest thing we hope will come of our report this year is that healthcare organizations start to pay closer attention to healthcare technology safety," says Jim Keller, the institute's vice president for health technology evaluation and safety.

He adds that the authors of the report "felt that safety with healthcare technology has been given short shrift, or not really considered at all. But by having a 'top 10 hazards' list, healthcare organizations can look to that to help them prioritize safety initiatives that we think are important to have in place."

This year's ECRI Institute report, the sixth in an annual series, is longer than previous versions and contains specific examples of medical errors and mishaps. Each of the 10 sections also includes recommendations for what organizations can do to prevent such incidents.

"We'd gotten commentary from folks that they would appreciate more background on each of the top 10 topics," Keller said.

One reason for the added length and detail, he explained, is because more hospital organizations are joining patient safety organizations that are collecting such specific information.

 

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