Medical mistakes, opioids top ECRI list of patient safety concerns in 2018

Diagnostic errors can lead to serious consequences, such as care gaps and unnecessary procedures, while opioid safety should be prioritized due to the seriousness of its side effects.
By Jessica Davis
09:46 AM
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Diagnostic errors are the number one concern for the healthcare industry in 2018, according to the ECRI Institute’s list of Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations released this week.

About one in 20 adults experiences a diagnostic error, which can lead to gaps in care, unnecessary procedures, repeat testing and patient harm, according to the report.

In fact, ECRI’s Patient Safety Analyst Gail Horvath said that many hospital deaths attributed to the natural course of the disease could have actually been caused by medical error. To combat this, ECRI recommends providers leverage tools and algorithms to overcome cognitive biases.

[Also: ECRI's top 10 tech hazards for 2018, security gaps, dirty scopes make the list]

These tools can also detect when errors or near-misses happen and providers can use the data to develop non-punitive ways to learn from the mistakes.

“Clinical decision support interventions can also be helpful by identifying ordered tests that haven't been done or by flagging incidental findings that require follow-up," Horvath wrote.

Second on ECRI’s list of concerns is opioid safety, which mirrors the spotlight Congress, the Trump administration and many healthcare groups have placed on the expanding epidemic.

For Stephanie Uses, ECRI’s patient safety analyst and consultant, opioids are a major concern due to the seriousness of their side effects.

“We recommend that clinicians carefully assess patients for opioid use disorder and set realistic expectations about pain," Uses said in a statement.

Rounding out ECRI’s list are: care coordination within a setting; workarounds; incorporating health IT into patient safety programs; behavioral health management in acute care settings; emergency preparedness; device disinfection and sterilization; patient engagement and health literacy; and leadership engagement in patient safety.

The list doesn’t highlight the most severe or prevalent issues, wrote William Marella, ECRI Institute PSO executive director of operations and analytics of patient safety, risk and quality.

“Rather, this list identifies concerns that have appeared in our members' inquiries, their root cause analyses, and in the adverse events they submit to our Patient Safety Organization," Marella added.

According to ECRI, organizations should use the list as a starting point to identify priorities for the year and create corrective action plans.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com