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ECRI Institute: IT Accounts for Multiple Health Technology Hazards

November 6, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a new report from the Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based non-profit research organization, ECRI Institute, three of the top 10 health technology hazards for the upcoming year are IT-related. Authors of the 24-page report, Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list for 2013, say in the health IT field “interplay between complexity and effectiveness and potential harm is most evident.”

One of the hazards, mentioned by the report’s authors, is potential mismatches in EHRs and other health IT (HIT) systems. They also say interoperability failures from health IT systems and distractions resulting from the use of smartphones and other mobile device are others hazards in health technology. The report’s authors also point to several peripheral technologies to health IT.

“The inherent complexity of HIT-related medical technologies, their potential to introduce new failure modes, and the possibility that such failures will affect many patients before being noticed—combined with federal incentives to meet Meaningful Use requirements—leads us to encourage healthcare facilities to pay particular attention to health IT when prioritizing their safety initiatives for 2013,” James P. Keller, Jr., vice president, health technology evaluation and safety, ECRI Institute, said in a statement.

The hazards had to have resulted in injury or death; occurred frequently; affect a large number of individuals; be difficult to recognize; had high-profile, widespread news coverage, and there must be clear steps for hospitals to take now to minimize these risks. 

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