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Compliance News: ECRI Publishes List of Top Health Technology Hazards for 2016

| David Stymiest

ECRI recently published its 2016 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list.  Healthcare organizations could consider the latest update of this list as one of many potential sources for identifying new safety risks or ensuring due consideration of previously-identified safety risks. Element of Performance # 1 under TJC’s Standard EC.02.01.01 requires identifying safety and security risks associated with the Environment of Care.

ECRI determines the content of the annual list by taking into account 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.

In contrast to previous years, this year ECRI is only making the abridged version, which it calls an Executive Brief, available free to the public.  That free executive brief is available here.

ECRI’s latest Top 10 List includes but is not limited to the below-listed types of risks that can fall within the venue of an organization’s Environment of Care Committee:

  • Inadequate cleaning of flexible endoscopes before disinfection/sterilization – this topic, which has the attention of regulators, rose to the top of the list in 2016
  • Not recognizing and responding in a timely manner to actionable clinical alarms – this is a variation on previous ECRI-listed topics that addressed the need for an effective clinical alarm management program.
  • Inadequate surveillance of telemetry-monitored patients
  • Insufficient training of clinicians on operating room technologies
  • Incompatibilities between healthcare information technology system configurations and facility workflow
  • Patient or staff injuries due to mechanical failures with gamma cameras (coupled with delays in effectively addressing safety recalls)
  • Failure to appropriately operate intensive care ventilators
  • Plugging unauthorized devices into medical device USB ports, potentially resulting in malfunctioning

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 Brief and review the applicability of the complete list to its Environment of Care processes.

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