ECRI Institute, a Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based research firm and patient safety organization, has issued its list of the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2011, with information technologies playing a prominent role.

Listed as No. 5 is "Data loss, system incompatibilities and other health I.T. complications." The convergence of medical technology such as monitors and ventilators into electronic health records brings many benefits to care, according to ECRI. But ineffective convergence can lead to data being lost or associated with the wrong patient.

Further, the number of HIT applications and integrations will likely increase dramatically because of HITECH Act provisions, according to ECRI. The organization makes a series of recommendations to better plan convergence projects, contractually stipulate expectations of vendors such as requesting system compatibility statements, educate staff about HIT-related problems and the need to report them, establish good relationships between I.T. and clinical engineering staff, and adopt robust software management, among others.

ECRI's Top 10 technology hazards are:

1. Radiation overdose and other dose errors during radiation therapy

2. Alarm hazards

3. Cross-contamination from flexible endoscopes

4. The high radiation dose of CT scans

5. Data loss, system incompatibilities and other health I.T. complications

6. Tubing and catheter misconnections

7. Over-sedation during use of PCA infusion pumps

8. Needlesticks and other sharps injuries

9. Surgical fires

10. Defibrillator failures in emergency resuscitation attempts

To access the report, click here. Registration is required.

--Joseph Goedert


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