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Top 10 Healthcare Technology Hazards for 2011

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 1, 2010

8. Needlesticks and Other Sharps Injuries.
A long-standing healthcare-associated risk, ECRI researchers say the number of injuries "remains staggering, despite the implementation of safety devices and the emphasis on training over the past 15 to 20 years."

The report suggests that prevention programs in these settings may be outdated. "It is easy to become complacent after initial efforts succeed in reducing the frequency of injuries. However, continuing injuries are a signal that additional attention is needed."

The report advises healthcare facilities to routinely review and refine their sharps safety efforts, making sure that all personnel are trained and that there are enough personnel should be considered in high risk areas such as the operating room, emergency department, nuclear medicine, and home care staff.

9. Surgical Fires.
Another holdover from 2010 is the surgical fire, 600 of which are estimated to occur each year, about as common as wrong-site surgeries.  ECRI last year developed clinical practice recommendations for delivering oxygen during surgery, in conjunction with the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.

Staff should be made aware of fire hazards from oxidizers, ignition sources, and operating room fuels.

10. Defibrillator Failures in Emergency Resuscitation Attempts.
The ECRI researchers point to their own reporting system, as well as an FDA database to document "many reports of incidents in which defibrillators didn't discharge during resuscitation attempts for various preventable reasons, (such as depleted batteries)."

To guard against these mishaps, clinicians responsible for using defibrillators should perform recommended checks "at least daily" and that the unit is plugged in and batteries are charging.

See also:

Top 10 Most Frequent, Costly Medical Errors

Linking Medical Errors, Nurses' 12-Hour Shifts


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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