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Top Ten Hospital Tech Hazards

December 29, 2008
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Earlier this month, the Ecri Institute, which conducts patient-safety research and investigates medical-device incidents, issued its second annual report on the top 10 technology hazards that should be on every hospital's list of safety concerns. Here they are:

1. Alarm hazards

2. Injuries from needle sticks and other sharp objects

3. Air embolism from contrast media injectors

4. Retained devices and unretrieved fragments left in patients

5. Surgical fires

6. Anesthesia hazards due to inadequate pre-use inspection

7. Misleading displays

8. CT radiation dose

9. MR imaging burns

10. Fiber optic light-source burns

From a patient’s perspective, the list is frightening. (Actually, a Wall Street Journal reporter who covered the story began with this line, “You could call it the top 10 reasons to stay out of the hospital.”) But think about it. From a hospital’s perspective, the list is a great marketing opportunity! Since the Ecri Institute’s PR machine has done a darn fine job disseminating this list of horrors, chances are quite good that I’m not the only civilian to run across their findings. So, instead of hoping that your potential patients were out Christmas shopping instead of scaring themselves right out of their gowns by reading about “air embolisms from contrast media injectors” or “injuries from needle sticks and other sharp objects,” why not face the findings head on?

Use your hospital’s Web site and/or monthly e-newsletter and take a proactive stance along these lines: “Have you read the Ecri Institute’s latest report? Scary, isn't it? We think so, too, and here’s what we’re doing about it here at XYZ Hospital.” Maximize this opportunity to tout recent investments in education, technology, and IT personnel, thereby reassuring potential patients and helping brand your hospital as technologically first-rate.

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