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Top 10 Health Technology Threats and Hazards

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   November 08, 2016

ECRI Institute engineers, scientists, clinicians, and other patient safety analysts rank the top technology-related threats that healthcare providers are likely to encounter in the coming year.

Infusion errors, dirty scopes, and missed ventilator alarms are top threats to patient safety that healthcare providers will likely encounter in the coming year, according to ECRI Institute.

ECRI's annual Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2017 list is offered to help hospitals and other healthcare facilities recognize the danger or difficulty that comes with health technology, and the steps needed to minimize adverse events.

"This list focuses on what we call generic hazards—problems that result from the risks inherent to the use of certain types or combinations of medical technologies. It does not discuss risks or problems that pertain to specific models or suppliers," ECRI said in an executive brief.

To compile the list, ECRI staff consider the thousands of health-technology-related problem reports receive through its Problem Reporting Network and through data that participating facilities share. The Top 10 List is drawn from recommendations submitted by ECRI Institute engineers, scientists, clinicians, and other patient safety analysts.

The top hazard in 2017 waves a red flag at infusion errors that can still occur when using large-volume infusion pumps. ECRI notes that modern pumps have safety mechanisms that reduce the risks of infusion errors, but they cannot eliminate all potential errors, and the mechanisms themselves have been known to fail.

"ECRI Institute continues to receive reports and investigate incidents of uncontrolled flow of medication to the patient—a potentially fatal circumstance known as "IV free flow"—and other infusion errors," the report said. "Fortunately, a few simple steps can help catch use errors and component failures before patient care is affected."

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