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Compliance News: ECRI Publishes List of Top Health Technology Hazards for 2019

ECRI Institute (ECRI) recently published its 2019 Top 10 list of health technology hazards. Healthcare organizations could consider this latest update of this list as one of many potential sources for identifying new safety risks or guiding due reconsideration of previously-identified safety risks.

ECRI determines the content of the annual list, by considering adverse incidents, testing results, observations of hospital practices, literature reviews and input from other health care industry sources such as medical device users, maintainers, suppliers and hospital administrators. With all of this input, the ECRI vetting process considers severity and frequency along with other issues including the ability to prevent or minimize the risks.

ECRI is only making an abridged version (called an Executive Brief) available free to the public. That free executive brief is available at ECRI members can also obtain the full report with recommended solutions and lists of numerous resources.

ECRI’s 2019 Top 10 List topics include the below-listed types of risks, many within the purview of an organization’s Environment of Care Committee:

• Within the physical, clinical and business environments:

o Hacking of remote access to systems for infiltration purposes

• Within the physical and clinical environments, including biomedical engineering:

o “Clean” mattresses with problematic covers that can ooze body fluids onto patients
o Risk of injury from overhead patient lift systems
o Equipment damage and fires from cleaning fluid seeping into various electrical components

• Within the clinical environment, including biomedical engineering:

o Patient risks from improperly set ventilator alarms
o Patient infections due to mishandling of flexible endoscopes after disinfection
o Infusion pump medication errors due to confusing dose rate and flow rate
o Missed alarms due to improper customization of physiologic monitor alarm settings
o Device maloperation due to flawed battery charging systems and practices

• Within the clinical environment:

o Retained surgical sponge issues even with manual counts

ECRI cautions that not every topic on its latest list will apply to every healthcare facility. However, we recommend that every healthcare organization obtain the 2019 Executive Brief and review the applicability of the complete list to its Environment of Care processes.

Questions related to this article may be directed to the author, David Stymiest, PE, CHFM, CHSP, FASHE, at