Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 14, 2012

ECRI Institute Reveals its 2013 Report on Health IT Hazards

Since its foundation, over 40 years ago, ECRI Institute, a not-for-profit organization, has applied scientific research in healthcare to raise awareness on health IT (HIT) matters and find the best practices to improve patient care delivery.

From emerging technology, potential failures, the use of IT devices and systems in hospitals or medical clinics and hazards linked to IT, ECRI reveals recommendations for improving safety through reports.

Among their evidence-based research reports is a topic on potential hazards: Those that involve health IT system-related technologies. This report, updated a year ago, shows new opportunities for harm: The Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list.

The annual Top 10 list on HIT-related issues is obtainable now. It is the sixth year of publication and is available for health professionals who can receive a complete 2013 list and read through the 24-page report. They can find it available free as a download, with registration, on the ECRI Institute website. 

For those that are not health professionals, but would like to know the top five hazards listed in the report for the coming year, they are:

  • Alarm Hazards
  • Medication administration errors using infusion pumps
  • Unnecessary radiation exposures and radiation burns during diagnostic radiology procedures
  • Patient/data mismatches in EHRs and other health IT systems
  • Interoperability failures with medical devices and health IT systems

To know the remaining five hazards, click here.

One of the top hazards listed in ECRI Institute’s report involves HIT-related medical devices and systems which have the tendency to fail; they might not give the right lab results or give improper procedures to deliver care to a patient.

Another hazard listed concerns in the use of EHRs (electronic health records); even though they are useful for quick data entry and having the ability to retrieve, manage, control and share a patient’s folder at any time or place via the network, it is, however, prone to system and human errors, like patient/data mismatches.

A third hazard is that of CT scanning systems (a medical imaging procedure that uses medical x-ray machines) to produce images of almost any part of the body. Even though essential, these machines could cause unnecessary radiation exposure (or overexposure for that matter) and radiation burns (its number 3 on the list).

There is mention of the potential dangers associated with the use of computed tomography (CT) scanners and other medical devices and systems in the ECRI report that could cause patients harm or worst, injury or death.

Even though there are steps in place for hospitals to take precautions to minimize many of the health tech hazards listed, healthcare organizations as well as patients can learn a lot from ECRI Institute's 2013 report or their Web-based Health Technology Hazard Self-Assessment Tool, which provides risk factor ratings of low, medium, or high related to each of the Top 10 hazards.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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