Accident and Forensic Investigation Services

Rely on our highly qualified team of expert investigators to determine the cause of healthcare-related incidents, deliver remedies, and provide legal support

“Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the country,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, Ph.D., president, and CEO of ECRI. “This guidance can help healthcare leaders and clinicians save lives.”

Accidents happen. But they need not be repeated. At ECRI, our technical and clinical experts work with you to determine what went wrong and why, so we can help you build strategies, procedures, and safeguards aimed at preventing future incidents. Incident response and preparedness are essential for any healthcare organization looking toward the future and aiming to reduce the number of accidents and hazards that they encounter.

After an accident occurs, staff members' actions must center around restoring safety and maintaining normal operations, and yet, the important investigation work must be handled promptly, thoroughly, and in best practice, independently.

ECRI's Accident and Forensic Investigation services team have the knowledge and expertise to conduct unbiased, scientific clinical incident investigations to uncover and document facts and set your facility on a successful path forward. With the proper healthcare incident management support, you can give your patients the level of care they deserve.

Why ECRI

With the trusted ECRI name and more than 50 years of partnering with healthcare facilities across the continuum of care from large health systems, Aging Services facilities and Ambulatory Care Centers to promote safety, ECRI can be counted on to help you determine causes and prevent recurrences. ECRI's team of experts brings independent investigation in a systems approach that considers technology, users, patients, and the environment. Our specialized services include:

  • Patient incident investigations and incident management for patient safety
  • Sentinel event investigations and analyses
  • Root-cause analyses and risk-reduction strategies
  • Technical consultations, gross and microscopic inspections, and biomedical testing
  • Expert witness consultation and testimony
  • Proactive consultations to prevent known hazards and provide hospital accident reconstruction
  • Evaluating compliance (to prevent the termination of Medicare and Medicaid)

Evaluating risks and taking action before accidents occur

Incident reporting healthcare is critical to understanding why accidents occur and what action can be taken to prevent these issues in the future. However, ECRI doesn't stop there. Beyond investigating and analyzing the root causes of accidents, we offer extensive risk analysis and management services to support those in the healthcare industry looking to address emergencies and accidents long before they happen.

This includes support with:

  • Device Evaluations: Having the right equipment to treat your patients is not only essential for providing the best care but also for reducing the number of infections and accidents that occur in your facilities. ECRI works with you to help you better understand the different types of devices your hospital may wish to employ for certain healthcare purposes, how they compare to other similar devices made available to healthcare facilities, and whether or not they're a good fit for your facilities' needs.
  • Aging Services Risk Management: Older populations in assisted living facilities and similar facilities are at greater risk of injury or infection. Taking the necessary action to reduce potential falls, infection, and other risks is critical to their overall health and well-being. Prevent accidents before they happen with our Aging Services Risk Management solution.
  • Ambulatory Care Risk Management: Patients needn't receive admission to a hospital or other facility in order to encounter accidents. Is medication safety an important focus in your office? Are you taking the necessary precautions to prevent an infectious disease outbreak or similar developments (like the spread of COVID-19)? Do you have emergency response protocols in place should accidents occur in the office? All of these are essential questions to ask if you're looking to preserve public health for all. ECRI works with you to improve both outpatient and inpatient care.
  • Infection Prevention and Control: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed critical issues in the healthcare system that revealed most healthcare facilities are not prepared for outbreaks. With the support of infection prevention and infection control consultants, we work with you to address emergency preparedness, evaluate and investigate weaknesses in your systems and processes that need to be addressed so you can deal with such an emergency, and develop a plan and proper response actions so that your patients and your hospital personnel are protected.
  • Risk Assessments: Assessing risk in your organization effectively means analyzing a wide range of aspects of your facilities. Fortunately, there's plenty of support to achieve this in your organization. From clinical and operational risk assessments to guided assessments, ECRI is here to help you improve patient safety.

Overall, ECRI offers comprehensive services and solutions designed to prevent accidents before they happen, better understand the accidents that do occur regardless, and make the necessary changes required to improve current practices so that these accidents don't happen again.

Reducing accident occurrences with healthcare personnel education

Healthcare staff need to be properly educated and informed about facility protocols and processes so that they can provide the best possible care to patients and protect themselves every step of the way. ECRI offers a wealth of resources and educational opportunities designed to help your personnel thrive in their roles. This includes:

  • Health System Risk Management: Our Health System Risk Management resource comes in the form of a standalone online membership as well as a Patient Safety Organization membership, offering evidence-based guidance, actionable tools, and practical strategies to help those in management risk positions improve their operations, response plans, and more over time.
  • Courses and Education: ECRI offers multiple courses that give personnel the proper training they need to assess and respond to risk. One excellent example of this is our Healthcare Incident Management and Investigation Course, which trains risk managers, providers, and biomedical engineers on how to broadly manage and investigate any type of healthcare incident, starting from its inception to potential litigation that may stem from the incident. Of course, we offer more than just this. In fact, ECRI has an extensive eLearning catalog with courses that can help modern healthcare professionals improve their risk assessment and response knowledge.
  • ECRI and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices PSO: The ECRI is a formally and federally recognized Patient Safety Organization that offers the ability to report a medication or vaccine event, receive data-driven insights to address safety issues and potential risks, and connect with safety experts for custom support in your organization.

When to call ECRI

ECRI is adept at handling all aspects of investigations and can assist you when an incident occurs at your facilities. Our experts can handle clinical interviews and record reviews, biomedical or biomechanical analyses, determination of device failure mechanisms, and simulation of events. ECRI investigators also prepare facilities for any legal discussions or proceedings; they properly document all steps in medical incident reports, maintain the chain of custody of evidence, avoid inappropriate release or alteration of evidence, and are able to remain unbiased as they navigate the investigation of the incident. ECRI has investigated thousands of incidents all over the country and internationally; our experience and our integrity are invaluable.

Get assistance today

Are you ready to receive the consulting support and solutions that your facilities demand? If so, contact us to learn more.

Meet our experts

Christopher Schabowsky, PhD, CCE

Director, Accident and Forensic Investigation
Dr. Schabowsky is the Director of ECRI’s accident and forensic investigation services. He regularly conducts incident investigations of adverse events and injuries involving healthcare technologies and surgical procedures. Recent cases involve ventilators, harmonic scalpels, defibrillators, operating tables, and infusion pumps. He lectures nationally on patient safety topics such as surgical fire prevention and extinguishment. He is a certified clinical engineer and serves on the US Board of Examiners for Certified Clinical Engineering. Download Christopher Schabowsky’s CV

Bruce C. Hansel, PhD, CCE, CPHRM

Principal and Chief Scientist
During the last four decades, Dr. Hansel has performed nearly 1,000 medical incident investigations involving many types of medical technologies and procedures. He has provided technical expert opinion and testimony regarding anesthesia, ventilation, infusion, surgical instruments, monitors, catheters, implants, surgical burns, gas embolism, and more. Download Bruce Hansel’s CV

Barbara G. Malanga, BSEE

Program Manager and Investigator
Ms. Malanga has been with ECRI for 15 years and has worked in Device Evaluation and Accident and Forensic Investigation. She has performed comparative evaluations and investigations related to defibrillators, pacemakers, electrocardiographs, and fires. She has developed educational materials designed to train risk management personnel as well as biomedical engineers on best practices in incident management and investigation. Download Barbara Malanga’s CV

Are you ready to receive the consulting support and solutions that your facilities demand? If so, you can contact us to learn more by emailing clientservices@ecri.org or by calling us at 610.825.6000 ext. 5891.

Accident Intelligence Program
Streamline access to our accident investigation services when there is an urgent need for assistance with ECRI's Accident Intelligence Program. Put important agreements in place in advance, so you can get the answers and expertise you need as quickly as possible, without fear of HIPAA violations or legal delays.

To participate in the program: