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ECRI issues its annual list of the top health technology hazards

by Gus Iversen , Editor in Chief
Every year, ECRI Institute's Health Device Group issues a list identifying the top ten potential device-related sources of danger in the coming year. Along with the list, accompanying strategies for mitigating the various trouble-areas are also included.

The topics on the list are chosen by weighing factors such as the severity, frequency, breadth, insidiousness, and profile of the hazard — and they all have at least one thing in common: they can be avoided with appropriate measures.

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ECRI's Top 10 Health Technology Hazards 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

For comparison, here is the list from 2016:

1. Inadequate Cleaning of Flexible Endoscopes before Disinfection Can Spread Deadly Pathogens
2. Missed Alarms Can Have Fatal Consequences
3. Failure to Effectively Monitor Postoperative Patients for Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression Can Lead to Brain Injury or Death
4. Inadequate Surveillance of Monitored Patients in a Telemetry Setting May Put Patients at Risk
5. Insufficient Training of Clinicians on Operating Room Technologies Puts Patients at Increased Risk of Harm
6. Errors Arise When HIT Configurations and Facility Workflow Do Not Support Each Other
7. Unsafe Injection Practices Expose Patients to Infectious Agents
8. Gamma Camera Mechanical Failures Can Lead to Serious Injury
or Death
9. Failure to Appropriately Operate Intensive Care Ventilators Can Result in Preventable Ventilator-Induced Lung Injuries
10. Misuse of USB Ports Can Cause Medical Devices to Malfunction

"Technology safety can often be overlooked when hospital leaders are dealing with so many other issues," said David T. Jamison, executive director of ECRI's Health Devices Group, 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."

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