Health IT tops list of patient safety concerns


Health IT heads up a list of the top 10 patient safety concerns for healthcare organizations, released this week by ECRI Institute, an independent, non-profit organization that researches the best approaches to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care.

A particular area of concern was the integrity of data in health IT systems. While appropriately designed and implemented systems can support patient safety and quality of care, incorrect data can lead to patient harm.

Other concerns on ECRI Institute’s list include poor care coordination, drug shortages, mislabeled specimens, falls while toileting, and foreign objects unintentionally retained after surgery, childbirth, or other interventional procedures.

ECRI Institute’s analysis reveals specific contributing factors that can lead to greater occurrences of these events.

“In a time of competing priorities and limited resources in healthcare, we encourage facilities to use the list as a starting point for patient safety discussions and for setting their patient safety priorities,” said Dr Karen Zimmer, medical director of ECRI Institute’s patient safety, risk, and quality group and of ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization (PSO).

“ECRI Institute PSO has been collecting and analyzing events since 2009 and there are sufficient data to share recurring themes and associated prevention strategies.”

The list is intended to help healthcare organizations identify priorities and aid them in creating corrective action plans. ECRI Institute is providing free access to a number of educational tools at, including the full report, a PowerPoint slideshow that summarizes the Top 10, and a poster.

“The events reported to us give us a deeper understanding that an event we’re seeing in one organization, we’re also seeing in others,” said Catherine Pusey, manager of clinical analysts at ECRI Institute PSO.

“Included with this report are recommended risk mitigation strategies for these issues. Individuals in risk and quality departments can present this information to their organization’s leadership to get the resources they need to improve safety.”

ECRI Institute, Patient Safety, Dr Karen Zimmer, Catherine Pusey, US