Superior technology need not always mean better healthcare. Very often, technology comes with its own attendant risks.From infections to cancer to surgical fires, this list covers the top 10 healthcare technology threats for 2010.
1. Cross-Contamination from Flexible Endoscopes
This mainly results from failure to adhere to cleaning and sterilization procedures.
To prevent risk, hospitals should:
- Develop and adhere to comprehensive, model-specific reprocessing protocols;
- Ensure that model-specific reprocessing protocols exist for each flexible endoscope model; and
- Ensure that any automated endoscope reprocessors (AERs) are compatible with the disinfecting agent, the appropriate channel adapters are available, and staff adhere to maintenance schedules.
2. Alarm Hazards
Alarm issues are among the most frequently reported problems, mostly due to the sheer variety of equipment – patient monitoring, ventilators, dialysis units and many others.
To avoid potential risks:
- Avoid alarm fatigue by configuring alarm limits to appropriate, physiologically meaningful values;
- Look for designs that limit nuisance (false or excessive) alarms, which can desensitize staff; and
- Consider implementing an alarm-enhancement system to increase alarm volume or convey alarms remotely.
3. Surgical Fires
Most surgical fires result from the presence of an oxygen-enriched atmosphere during surgeries to the head, face, back and upper chest.
New recommendations include:
- With certain exceptions, the traditional practice of open delivery of 100 percent oxygen should be discontinued during head, face, back, and upper-chest surgery.
- Hospitals should implement a surgical fire prevention and management program.
- Each member of the surgical team should clearly understand the role played by oxidizers, ignition sources, and fuels – the classic fire triangle in the operating room.
4. CT Radiation Dose
In the United States alone, CT is thought to be responsible for about 6,000 additional cancers a year.
To avoid potential risks:
- Make sure the expected benefits of a CT study outweigh the radiation risks.
- In most modern systems, the dose can be reduced by up to 80 percent. Adjust CT acquisition parameters to allow the required clinical information to be obtained with the lowest possible dose.
- CT precations are especially important for pediatric patients – for whom the cancer risk is as much as triple that for a 30-year-old – and pregnant women.
- Ensure that technologists performing CT exams are trained specifically for CT and that they maintain their training and certification.
5. Retained Devices and Unretrieved Fragments
These take the form of retained devices, where an entire device is unknowingly left behind, and unretrieved device fragments in which a portion of a device breaks away and remains inside the patient
To prevent risks:
- Inspect devices before use. If a device appears damaged, don’t use it.
- Be alert for significant resistance during device removal, which could indicate that the device is trapped and at risk of breaking.
- Inspect devices as soon as they are removed from the patient.
6. Needlesticks and Other Sharps Injuries
7. Problems with Computerized Equipment and Systems
8. Surgical Stapler Hazards
9. Ferromagnetic Objects in the MR Environment
10. Fiberoptic Light-Source Burns
To read the complete list, click on the link below.
ECRI identifies top 10 health technology hazards for 2010 | Healthcare IT News