Patient care research firm ECRI Institute has published its sixth annual list of the Top 10 health care technology hazards.

Three of the hazards have a direct link to information technology with several others closely related. “The inherent complexity of HIT-related medical technologies, their potential to introduce new failure modes, and the possibility that such failures will affect many patients before being noticed--combined with federal incentives to meet Meaningful Use requirements--leads us to encourage health care facilities to pay particular attention to health I.T. when prioritizing their safety initiatives for 2013,” says James Keller, Jr., vice president of health technology evaluation and safety at ECRI.

Each of the 10 hazards are extensively examined, with recommendations for improving safety and multiple resource links. The hazards, in order, are medical device alarms because of their sheer number; medication administration errors using infusion pumps; unnecessary exposures and radiation burns from diagnostic radiology procedures; patient/data mismatches in EHRs and other health I.T. systems; interoperability failures with medical devices and health I.T. systems; air embolism hazards, inattention to the needs of pediatric patients when using “adult” technologies; inadequate reprocessing of endoscopic devices and surgical instruments; caregiver distractions from smartphones and other mobile devices; and surgical fires, which remain rare but high-impact and with ECRI still receiving at least one report weekly.

The 25-page report, “Top 10 Health Technology Hazards List for 2013,” is available for free here, registration is required.

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