Health care IT, care coordination top list of 2014 patient safety concerns
In its first annual list of the top 10 patient safety concerns for health care organizations, the ECRI Institute, based in Plymouth Meeting, PA, placed health care information technology (IT) systems at the top of list, noting that while IT has great potential to improve patient safety, poorly designed systems or incorrect patient data can lead to patient harm.
With the federal government providing financial incentives for hospitals and individual providers to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic medical records, there has been a rush to adopt the technology. However, the ECRI report notes that substandard or poorly implemented systems can lead to data entry errors and other problems that can result in suboptimal or improper treatment. It is not the first time ECRI has highlighted this problem. The institute also cites similar concerns in another report, listing the top health technology hazards for 2014.
Second on the ECRI list of patient safety concerns is poor care coordination between different providers or settings of care. The report notes instances of critical information not being provided when patients transfer from one provider to another, and communications breakdowns between hospitals and different types of care facilities.
Other items on the list are delays and/or failures in reporting test results, drug shortages, mislabeled laboratory specimens, poor management of patients with mental health problems, items left inside patients during surgery, falls, substandard cleaning or disinfecting of surgical instruments, and poor monitoring of respiratory depression in patients who are taking opioids.
The list was compiled from data voluntarily provided to ECRI from 1,200 hospitals. While more than 20 patient safety concerns were originally identified, the list was whittled down to 10 by a multidisciplinary team that ranked the items.
Editor’s note: To download the list, visit the ECRI website at https://www.ecri.org/PatientSafetyTop10.