Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2014: Key Safety Threats to Manage in the Coming Year

April 20, 2017 | Evaluations & Guidance


Ensuring the safe use of health technology requires identifying possible sources of danger or difficulty involving medical devices and systems and taking steps to minimize the likelihood that adverse events will occur. With the vast array of technologies in use at a modern healthcare facility, however, deciding where to commit limited resources is a continual challenge.

Our annual Top 10 list highlights the technology safety topics that we believe warrant particular attention for the coming year. Some are hazards that we see occurring with regularity. Some are problems that we believe will become more prevalent, given the way the technology landscape is evolving. And some are well-known risks that periodically warrant renewed attention.

But all the items on the list represent problems that can be avoided or risks that can be minimized through the careful management of technologies. For each one, we describe the risk-mitigation strategies that are currently available, making this list a practical tool for identifying high-impact steps you can take to improve patient care at your facility.

The list is not comprehensive, nor will all of the hazards listed here be applicable at all healthcare facilities. We encourage facilities to use the list as a starting point for patient safety discussions and for setting their health technology safety priorities.

To view all of our annual Top 10 Hazards lists, visit the Top 10 Hazards archive.

As in previous years, the Top 10 list includes a mix of old and new topics. Alarm hazards and medication administration errors using infusion pumps, for example, retain the first and second positions on the list because of their prevalence and their potential to result in serious patient harm. New topics this year include hazards related to radiation exposure in hybrid ORs and complications arising from insufficient training in the application of robotic surgery. These are two rapidly evolving technology areas where, we believe, the inherent risks may not be fully appreciated.

We caution readers that the exclusion of a topic that was included on a previous year’s list should not be interpreted to mean that the topic no longer warrants attention. Most of those hazards persist, and hospitals should continue working toward minimizing them. Rather, our experts determined that other topics warranted greater attention for the coming year.

The hazards described here affect many departments (e.g., OR, radiology, sterile processing) and many professions, including clinicians and clinical department managers, patient safety, risk management and quality, administration, clinical engineering, IT, and materials management. We encourage you to alert staff in those areas to this list and its recommendations.

Additional hazard-specific resources are listed after each hazard. Members of ECRI Institute’s Health Devices System, Health Devices Gold, and SELECTplus programs have free access to everything in the “Member Resources” lists. Selected resources may also be available to members of ECRI Institute PSO and several other ECRI Institute programs. To inquire about membership in any of our programs, please...

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