Alarm hazards a key concern for 2015


Alarm hazards, electronic health record data integrity issues, and infusion line mix-ups top the 2015 Top Ten Health Technology Hazards from patient safety organization ECRI Institute.

The list highlights ten safety topics that ECRI Institute deems crucial for hospitals to address in the coming year.

“Technology safety can often be overlooked,” said James Keller, vice president, health technology evaluation and safety, ECRI Institute. “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.”

The 2015 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report, available for download as a free public service, details a variety of technology hazards that put patients at risk. Each hazard includes an overview of the issue and recommended action steps to aid healthcare facilities in their efforts to maintain a safe environment for patients and healthcare workers.

Topics on the 2015 list include inadequate alarm configuration policies and practices; incorrect or missing data in electronic health records and other health IT systems; mix-up of IV lines leading to misadministration of drugs and solutions; inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes and surgical instruments; and ventilator disconnections not caught because of mis-set or missed alarms.

For the fourth year in a row, clinical alarm hazards, a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal, remains number one on ECRI Institute’s list. This year, the report draws particular attention to alarm configuration practices. ECRI Institute said it is aware of several deaths and other cases of severe patient harm that may have been prevented with more effective alarm policies and practices.

Recall management, which appears on the list for the first time, points to overwhelmed recall and safety-alert programs as a potential for serious consequences for healthcare facilities and patients. ECRI Institute said its experts are concerned that existing hospital recall tracking programs are not keeping pace with the growing number of medical device recalls issued each year. FDA reports that the annual number of medical device recalls nearly doubled between 2003 and 2012, from 604 recalls to 1,190 annually.

2015 Top Ten Health Technology Hazards, US, ECRI, James Keller, Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal, FDA