Annual list provides opportunities for stories on hazards in health care

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

The ECRI Institute every so often comes out with top 10 lists, and on Monday it issued its latest, focusing on devices that cause harm.

Its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards is produced annually.

Here is a verbatim list:

  1. Misuse of surgical staplers
  2. Adoption of point-of-care ultrasound is outpacing safeguards
  3. Infection risks from sterile processing errors in medical and dental offices
  4. Hemodialysis risks with central venous catheters — will the home dialysis push increase the dangers?
  5. Unproven surgical robotic procedures may put patients at risk
  6. Alarm, alert and notification overload
  7. Cybersecurity risks in the connected home health care environment
  8. Missing implant data can delay or add danger to MRI scans
  9. Medication errors from dose timing discrepancies in EHRs
  10. Loose nuts and bolts can lead to catastrophic device failures and severe injury

The top 10 are selected based on severity, frequency, breadth, insidiousness (as in the difficulty of a problem being recognized), whether the hazard is likely to receive publicity or attention from regulatory agencies and preventability.

One new thing:  Hazards used to be confined to acute care hospitals. Now they are expanding into ambulatory surgery and in-home settings, where medical devices are increasingly being used, such as home dialysis, the report said.

The 18-page report goes into extensive detail on each potential device mishap, and each one of the 10 is probably worth its own story.

The report is easily downloaded by filling out ECRI’s online request. Spokeswoman Laurie Menyo may be able to arrange interviews.

Menyo also can get journalists access to previous reports so one can see how technology hazards are evolving in terms of those considered the highest risk.

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