2020 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Executive Brief

Learn how to identify and address health technology hazards in your facilities

This 13th edition of our Top 10 list features many first-time topics, with an emphasis on newly developing hazards and the migration of medical technologies to areas beyond the acute care setting. Nevertheless, the number 1 topic on this year's list is one that we're revisiting from the past: the risks associated with the use of surgical staplers.

Surgical staplers have been the subject of significant media attention in the past year, especially with FDA's efforts to reclassify these devices. The guidance we've developed from years of investigating cases that involved serious injury or death will help stapler users avoid many of the common errors that can lead to patient harm.

Two of the topics on this year's list address the expanding applications for which comparatively new and rapidly developing health technologies are being used.

  • Point-of-care ultrasound scanners are changing the practice of healthcare in many specialties and safety measures have struggled to keep up.
  • General-purpose surgical robots are being used for a continually expanding range of minimally invasive surgical procedures. However, the risks associated with using a robot for those procedures have not been fully assessed.

As several new topics this year illustrate, health technology hazards are not confined to the acute care setting.

  • This year we shine a light on sterilization process failures that we've seen in some ambulatory care settings, including dental offices and medical offices.
  • When hemodialysis patients that use a central venous catheters (CVC) are treated at home, a growing trend, the potential for harm is even more pronounced.
  • The home care environment provides unique challenges for managing cybersecurity threats due to patient monitoring devices that could potentially expose protected health information.

Also on this year's list is a more global view of alarm management, focusing on the cognitive load resulting from the sum of all alarms, alerts, and other notifications that confront clinicians on a daily basis.

Two other topics relate to how electronic health records (EHRs) can be better configured to fulfill their potential for preventing medical errors and improving patient safety.

Lastly, we detail how the failure of even simple components of complex medical equipment can have devastating consequences.

Are your patients at risk? Read on to learn more about the hidden-in-plain-sight healthcare hazards and what you can do about them.

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