Health IT holds great promise for improving care but can also pose big risks when not properly deployed. ECRI Institute's second annual list of patient safety concerns puts EHR-related worries in the top two spots.
"This is more than just a list," says William Marella, executive director of operations and analytics of the ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization, in a press statement. "It's a reminder that, despite the attention given to patient safety over the last 15 years or so, we can do better."
Access ECRI's full report here.
While the dangers of alarm fatigue are well-known, ECRI urges providers to pay attention to more systemic – and potentially much more dangerous – problems that are often overlooked.
"In addition to missed alarms that can result from excessive alarm activations, hospitals also have to be concerned about alarms that don't activate when a patient is in distress," says Rob Schluth, senior project officer at ECRI Institute and the lead project manager for the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2015 project, in a statement.
"In our experience, alarm-related adverse events – whether they result from missed alarms or from unrecognized alarm conditions – often can be traced to alarm systems that were not configured appropriately," he said.
This problem was also listed on ECRI's Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report.
"With the introduction of any new technology, we need to identify and respond to novel problems it presents as well as old problems that the new technology doesn't eliminate," says Marella.
While data integrity issues surely exist with paper medical records as well,"as EHRs become more interoperable, incorrect information is more readily available, more easily shared and harder to eliminate," he says. "In order to get a return on the investment we've made in EHRs and clinical decision support, we now need to tackle the more mundane problem of making sure the data in the EHR is accurate."
Hospitals are regularly faced with violent or threatening patients whose behavior could jeopardize the safety of patients and staff.
But clinical staff often lack training in behavioral health and miss or mishandle the behavioral cues that might signal imminent violence, according to Ruth Ison, patient safety analyst/consultant at ECRI Institute PSO.