It’s that time of year again—the ECRI Institute has released its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2014 report, and with it come new (and old) hazards to keep in mind.
Alarm hazards still posed the greatest risk, topping the list at number one for the third year running. Other repeat hazards included medication administration errors while using smart pumps (in at number two), inadequate reprocessing of endoscopic devices and surgical instruments (number six), and, at number eight, risks to pediatric patients associated with technologies that may have been designed for use in adults (such as radiology, oxygen concentrators, computerized provider order–entry systems, and electronic medical records). For an overview on these, see our posts from 2012 and 2013.
And here’s a snapshot of new hazards that made the cut, along with some of the report’s suggestions on how to prevent them.
Radiation exposures in pediatric patients (#3)
The risk: Although computed tomography (CT) scans are valuable diagnostic tools, they are not without risk, and children, who are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults, are more susceptible to its potential negative effects. According to the report, new empirical studies suggest that “diagnostic imaging at a young age can increase a person’s risk of cancer later in life.”
Some suggestions: The report suggests that health care providers take the following actions: use safer diagnostic options, when possible, such as X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds; avoid repeat scanning; and use a dose that is “as low as reasonably achievable.”
Occupational radiation hazards in hybrid ORs (#5)
The risk: Hybrid ORs, which bring advanced imaging capabilities into the surgical environment, are a growing trend. However, with these angiography systems comes exposure to radiation—a risk to both patients and OR staff.
Some suggestions: According to the report, a radiation protection program is a must. The program should include training for staff, who may not have experience with imaging technology; the use of shielding with lead aprons or other lead barriers; and monitoring of radiation levels. Read the rest of this entry ?