Some of the benefits of healthcare technology includes being able to identify people with certain diseases earlier, help maximize patient care and improve coordination of care among healthcare professionals. However, as with any technology, there are always potential hazards, which can present in many ways. It may be the result of IT-related problems such as inappropriate malware protection. Or, it may be a result of inappropriate human-device interaction, such as improper device maintenance. Whatever the reason may be, identifying possible threats and addressing them can help minimize the risk of adverse events. Here are the Top 10 Healthcare Technology Hazards for 2015 predicted by the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI):
3. Mix-Up of IV Lines Leading to Misadmin-istration of Drugs and Solutions. When a patient has more than one infusion line, for medication administration, it can be easy for lines to get tangled and create confusion leading to a potential medication error where the wrong medication, or IV solution, is delivered to the wrong site or at the wrong rate.
4. Inadequate Reprocessing of Endoscopes and Surgical Instruments. Many instruments used in healthcare facilities are reusable. However, to prevent the spread of pathogens from one patient to another, appropriate disinfection and/or sterilization processes must occur. If any step in the cleaning process is compromised, patients are at risk for spreading disease or developing a hospital-associated infection.
5. Ventilator Disconnections Not Caught Because of Mis-set or Missed Alarms. A ventilator is a machine that makes it easier for patients to breathe until they are able to breathe completely on their own. There are numerous tubes and components involved and if any piece is disconnected, the ventilator is not able to provide oxygen to the patient adequately. If there is a lack of oxygen to the patient's brain, it could be fatal.
The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in healthcare workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients. “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility” is a national safety standard that was initiated almost 10 years ago to prevent injury of healthcare workers as well as patients during these activities. However, musculoskeletal injuries in healthcare occupations is still among the highest of all U.S. industries.
7.“Dose Creep”: Unnoticed Variations in Diagnostic Radiation Exposures. In healthcare, radiation is used for imaging studies as well as to treat certain forms of cancer. Two concepts necessary in radiation safety is “timing” and “spacing,” which refers to the length of time a person is exposed to radiation and how close in proximity a person is to the radiation source. ALARA is a safety standard that refers to using radiation “as low as reasonably achievable” to provide the necessary treatment or imaging.
8. Robotic Surgery: Complications Due To Insufficient Training. Robotic surgical devices became FDA approved in 2000 and was originally designed to perform laparoscopic, urologic and gynecologic surgery in a much quicker manner, with less blood loss and faster recovery time. Now, it is also used in gastric bypass, thyroid and gall bladder surgery. Unfortunately, over the past few years, thousands of adverse reports and deaths have occurred. Allegedly, this is a result of product defect and inadequate training of surgeons.
9. Cybersecurity: Insufficient Protections for Medical Devices and Systems.Inappropriate access to patient information, compromising data integrity within an electronic health record and/or device hacking could lead to disruption of healthcare services. As healthcare informatics tools and digital media continue to evolve, appropriate cypersecurity is necessary to keep them intact and functioning properly.
10. Overwhelmed Recall and Safety-Alert Management Programs. The intent of these programs is to alert healthcare providers BEFORE a patient is harmed. However, receiving these alerts, distributing them, responding to them and proper documentation of the response is a critical function and if overlooked, patient safety may be compromised.
Stay tuned for my next post related to"Alarm Fatigue!"