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Alarm Fatigue Tops List of Health Tech Hazards

November 5, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The ECRI Institute, a Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, has released its annual list of the top health technology hazards.

Like last year, this year’s list is inundated with information technology hazards. This includes data integrity failures in electronic health records, alarm fatigue, and neglected change management for network devices and systems. Here is the list in its entirety:

  1.  Alarm Hazards
  2.  Infusion Pump Medication Errors
  3.  CT Radiation Exposure in Pediatric Patients
  4.  Data Integrity Failures in EHRs and other Health IT Systems
  5.  Occupational Radiation Hazards in Hybrid ORs
  6.  Inadequate Reprocessing of Endoscopes and Surgical Instruments
  7.  Neglecting Change Management for Networked Devices and Systems
  8.  Risks to Pediatric Patients from “Adult” Technologies
  9.  Robotic Surgery Complications due to Insufficient Training
  10.  Retained Devices and Unretrieved Fragments

ECRI put alarm fatigue at the top of the list for its prevalence, potential to result in serious patient harm, and the increased attention it will receive from the Joint Commission in the coming year. In an Sentinel Event Alert, the Joint Commission cited 98 alarm-related events over a three-and a-half year period, with 80 of those events resulting in death and 13 in permanent loss of function.

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