Risk of Medical Errors Increases Due to Technology Hazards

The ECRI Institute has released a list of the biggest 10 health technology hazards of the year.  The list includes several technologies that medical malpractice attorneys are already very concerned about.

For instance, the number-one technology hazard, according to the list, involves the use of ventilator alarms.  According to the Food and Drug Administration, ventilator alarm-associated fatigue resulted in about 800 patient deaths in 2010.

The list also includes the following:

·         Hazards from exposure to radiation therapy and CT

·         Medication administration errors involving infusion pumps

·         Contamination from endoscopes

·         Inattention to change management for medical device connectivity

·         Enteral feeding mechanisms

·         Surgical fires

·         Needle sticks and other sharps injuries

·         Anesthesia hazards due to failure to inspect equipment

·         Poor use of home use medical devices

Some of the hazards mentioned in the list come as no surprise to Hawaii medical malpractice attorneys.  Besides ventilator alarm -related fatigue, patient safety groups and medical malpractice lawyers have also been concerned about radiation injuries resulting from accidental patient exposure to excessive radiation.  A number of cases reported from around the country have involved patients who were injured because radiation equipment was improperly configured, and resulted in a massive blast of radiation being emitted into the patient’s body.  Additionally, medical professionals may also be at risk when they administer medications using infusion pumps.  These are often overlooked errors that can lead to serious injuries.

In compiling the list, the ECRI evaluated the extent of the harm from the hazard, the frequency of the harm, the scope of the problem and whether it was a high-profile problem.  The ECRI is urging hospitals to increase awareness of these hazards among hospital personnel.  Doctor, nurses and technicians must be aware that many of the routine activities that they perform every day using medical tools may increase the risk of medical errors.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

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