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Remember, technology is still a toddler

Or mayhap a preschooler…

When it comes down to the usual arc of things, our reliance on technology often exceeds technology’s “ability” to do everything we would want it to do when we want it done. In this regard, I imagine technology as a really precocious toddler that frequently astounds, but also frustrates more often than we would like (imagine when technology becomes a surly teen!), resulting in various and sundry risks, hazards, etc. Well, this is a landscape that the good folks at ECRI tend to watch very carefully, with the end result being regular recommendations to the folks actually dealing with the ups and downs (hopefully more ups) of technology operations, as well as the bosses. Now I will say that not everything on the ECRI list has a direct impact on the hospital safety world (though one could submit that the pervasiveness of technology provides potential issues for all manner of stuff) as information with which to be familiar. At any rate, this year there are two offerings, one to provide information to the folks occupying the environs of the C-suite, the most interesting/applicable offerings being those related to UV disinfection technology and the application of technology in caring for patients with opioid addiction (that one is less directly tied to safety operations, but this has such wide-ranging implications, it can’t possibly hurt to have a little background info). And then for us non C-suiters, a report on the top Technology Hazards in healthcare for 2017 is also on offer, with infection control and prevention being somewhat of a common thread in the hazards, but clinical alarm safety is also represented. The links provided here will take you to access portals where, for a nominal offering of contact information, you can download these reports.

Now, in looking out my window, it appears that winter has finally put in an appearance on the East Coast (though I guess the rains out in California over the past few days is also representative of a winter weather pattern, albeit less snow-covered) and it reminded me of my past days of having (personal and professional) responsibility for (among any number of things) snow removal. Now, to my way of thinking, there is a certain zen that can be experienced when one is combatting the forces of nature one on one (preferably at night) that is probably one of my favorite OCD moments (and believe me, shoveling snow in the middle of the night brings with it a certain inescapable essence of OCD, but I digress). At any rate, one of the more important aspects of the snow removal game is that of ensuring that any and all nearby fire hydrants are well and truly accessible in the event they are needed in an emergency. Just as there is many a slip twixt cup and lip, any delay in accessing firefighting resources can yield catastrophic results, so, as a community service, I give you this information. Particularly in those areas experiencing a little more snow than usual, this might even be worth sharing with the rest of the folks in your organization. I figure if it helps even one person to be a little safer, then it’s worth the effort to spread the news.

And yet another Top 10 list…

Recently, ECRI unveiled its list of the Top 10 Healthcare Technology Hazards (here’s an article discussing this topic). And strangely enough, there is at least a couple that I think you will find oh-so-very familiar. Hopefully, you’re already working on the hazards that fall under your jurisdiction (which will vary from organization to organization), but I think it’s never a bad idea to take a look at what the think tanks are identifying (best believe that your favorite regulatory agency—insert name here—is keeping close tabs on groups like ECRI) and plan accordingly. I’m just going to list the hazards as indicated by ECRI, but if anyone out there in radio land has an interest in more in-depth discussion, please let me know and we can do just that. That said, I think these are pretty straightforward.

1)      Alarm hazards

2)     Infusion pump medication errors

3)     CT radiation exposures in pediatric patients

4)     Data integrity failures in EHRs and other health IT systems

5)     Occupational radiation hazards in hybrid ORs

6)     Inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes and surgical instruments

7)     Neglecting change management for network devices and systems

8)     Risks to pediatric patients from “adult” technologies

9)     Robotic surgery complications due to insufficient training

10)   Retained devices and unretrieved fragments