Clinical Alarms Top ECRI Institute List of Health IT Hazards

Other hazards included complications arising from insufficient training in the application of robotic surgery and errors arising from EHRs.

Alarm hazards, robotic surgery risks and radiation exposure in hybrid operating rooms were on ECRI Institute's annual Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list, which raises awareness of the potential dangers associated with the use of medical devices and helps health care providers minimize the risk of technology-related adverse events.

Clinical alarm hazards remain at the top of the list due to their prevalence and their potential to result in serious patient harm, according to ECRI, a nonprofit health IT organization.

New topics on the list this year include hazards related to radiation exposure in hybrid operating rooms and complications arising from insufficient training in the application of robotic surgery. The list also includes two hazards describing risks to pediatric patients: computed tomography (CT) radiation dose and the use of technologies designed for adults.

Coming in fourth place on the list were data integrity failures in electronic health records (EHRs) and other health IT systems. The presence of incorrect data could lead to incorrect treatment causing patient harm, and the data in an EHR or other health IT system can be compromised, the report noted.

Other hazards included in the list were inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes and surgical instruments, neglecting change management for networked devices and systems, risks to pediatric patients from adult technologies, robotic surgery complications due to insufficient training, and retained devices and unretrieved fragments.

"Technology safety can often be overlooked," James P. Keller Jr., vice president of health technology evaluation and safety at ECRI Institute, said in a statement. "Based on our experience, there are serious safety problems that need to be addressed. ECRI Institute recommends that hospitals use our list as a guide to help prioritize their technology-related safety initiatives."

Complementing the annual list is the organization’s Web-based Health Technology Hazard Self-Assessment Tool, which provides a facility- or department-specific risk factor rating of low, medium or high related to each of the top 10 hazards. The tool also provides targeted recommendations for mitigating the risks associated with each of the top 10 hazards.

To develop the annual list, ECRI Institute and ECRI Institute PSO engineers, scientists, nurses, physicians and patient safety analysts draw on the resources of the institute’s 45-year history, as well as their own expertise and insight gained through analyzing health care technologies. This insight includes examining health technology-related problem reports from hospitals and health systems worldwide, as well as those received through the organization’s federally designated patient safety organization, ECRI Institute PSO.