ECRI out with 10 deadly healthcare technology hazards for 2017

Annual report aims to alert hospitals to high risks so they’ll take safety measures.
By Bernie Monegain
10:49 AM
ECRI deadly technology hazards

ECRI Institute has released its 2017 list of worst technology hazards occurring today. The goal of the annual list, say ECRI leaders, is to inform healthcare facilities about important safety issues involving the use of medical devices and systems. Any of the items listed in the top 10 could be deadly, they say. The hazards range from inadequate cleaning of resusable instruments to the misuse of surgical staplers.

"Although today’s pumps incorporate features that reduce the risks of infusion errors, these safety mechanisms cannot eliminate all potential errors, and the mechanisms themselves have been known to fail," ECRI points out in its executive summary.

Inadequate cleaning of complex reusable instruments, including duodenoscopes, remains high on the list at No. 2. ECRI leaders point out it is due, in part, to the severity of the infection risks and also the persistence of the problem: ECRI Institute regularly sees reports of contaminated medical instruments being presented for use on a patient.

The list for 2017:

1. Infusion errors can be deadly if simple safety steps are overlooked

2. Inadequate cleaning of complex reusable instruments can lead to infections

3. Missed ventilator alarms can lead to patient harm

4. Undetected opioid-induced respiratory depression

5. Infection risks with heater-cooler devices used in cardiothoracic surgery

6. Software management gaps put patients, and patient data, at risk

7. Occupational radiation hazards in hybrid ORs

8. Automated dispensing cabinet setup and use errors may cause medication mishaps

9. Surgical stapler misuse and malfunctions

10. Device failures caused by cleaning products and practices

"Technology safety can often be overlooked when hospital leaders are dealing with so many other issues," said David T. Jamison, executive director, health devices group, ECRI Institute, in a statement. "As an independent medical device testing laboratory and investigator of technology-related incidents, we know what can go wrong and what steps hospitals can take to reduce patient harm related to specific technologies and processes."

ECRI leaders note that just because a topic on a previous year's list isn't included on the 2016 list, it shouldn't be interpreted to mean the topic no longer deserves attention. Most of these hazards persist.

[Also: ECRI releases top 10 list of deadly technology hazards]

ECRI Institute engineers, scientists, clinicians, and other patient safety analysts nominate topics for consideration based on their own expertise and insight gained through: investigating incidents; testing medical devices; observing operations and assessing hospital practices; reviewing literature; speaking with clinicians, clinical engineers, technology managers, purchasing staff, health systems administrators and device suppliers.

Access the full report here.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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