ECRI’s Top 10 Hazards Associated with Technology


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There are hazards associated with the use of technology in medical facilities. This has made it important for the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) to publish a list of ten unavoidable hazards. It is a best practice to ensure risk management in healthcare facilities to protect both the patient and the user of medical technology. To ensure healthcare compliance best practice the following must be considered.

1.       Risks and errors associated with Radiation Therapy: The ECRI has made specific recommendations to encourage best practices by implementing healthcare compliance to avoid over doses and accidents during radiation therapy. Healthcare facilities are required to ensure the following:

  • Proper installation of machines
  • Training and support for users
  • Maintenance
  • Implementation of corrective actions
  • Regular inspections
  • Risk management by avoiding oversights

2.       Hazards of Alarm Systems: There are usually two cases, one in which alarms overwhelm people in the healthcare facility. On the other hand, there may not be enough alarm systems to help in ensuring best practices in healthcare. Therefore, there must be enough and working alarm systems to make things comfortable for both the patients and staff.

3.       Cross Contamination by Endoscopes: There must be contamination free use of endoscopes. There are numerous instances where misuse of endoscopes has lead to infections in recovering patients due to contaminated cross ventilation. The ECRI recommends compliance with proper handling and maintenance processes to ensure contamination free use of endoscopes.

4.       Risks and Hazards Associated with CT Scans: It has been reported that the high doses of radiation during CT (Computed Tomography) Scans can increase the risk of cancer in patients. Therefore ECRI recommends monitoring and auditing of high level radiations as a routine to ensure best practices and healthcare compliance. The staff must be properly trained to ensure minimized risks for both the patient and themselves.

5.       IT Limitations and Complications:  There may be loss of data or system failures due to IT limitations and complications. ECRI recommends convergence of medical technology and Health Information Technology (HIT) to minimize adverse effects like:

  • Commission Errors
  • Omissions and wrong entries
  • Data analysis errors
  • Incompatibility of software applications and systems

Compliance with this recommendation will improve project management and ensure risk management as best practice.

6.       Problems with Leur Connections: Misconnections or faulty connections of catheters and tubes during treatment procedures are very harmful for patients. This can lead to introduction of harmful gases and wrong liquids unintentionally which interfere with the treatment and cause other complications. Therefore, it is a recommendation by the ECRI to ensure best practices in maintenance of devices and leur connections. Looking out for healthcare worker fatigue which is a common cause of oversight is important to ensure risk management.

7.       Risks with the use of PCA: Over sedation of patients during the use of Patient Controlled Analgesic (PCA) pumps can be life threatening. Therefore the ECRI recommends implementation of effective psychological therapy and regular follow-ups as best practice.

8.       Injuries and accidents within the facility: There are frequent accidents involving misuse or abuse of needle sticks and sharp instruments in medical facilities. There is need to ensure compliance with healthcare protocols to discard and handle these instruments with care. They can be a source of risk and hazards for other patients and medical staff as well. As best practice regular assessment of programs overseeing the use and handling of medical equipment is recommended by the ECRI.

9.       Fires due to Surgery: After surveys it was established that in the U.S there are about 600 fires due to mishaps during surgery. Therefore an ECRI recommends implementation of preventive and management programs for risk management in healthcare facilities. There is also need to ensure proper training on oxygen delivery as best practice to avoid risk of fire in theaters.

10.   Crisis in Emergency Room: Failure of defibrillators for resuscitation is a common problem which requires maintenance and proper installations. The battery must be charged at all times and ready for use. For best practices healthcare facility managers must ensure compliance with instructions for maintenance and availability of necessary gadgets in the emergency room.

To conclude, it must be emphasized that to ensure best practices there is need for compliance with ECRI recommendations.

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