HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hospital Harms: A Top 10 List

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog has a handy list of potential harms that could occur should you find yourself visiting a hospital in the near future.   

Ten_3 The ECRI Institute, which researches patient safety issues, issued its second annual report on the top 10 technology hazards that every hospital should pay more attention to.

Without further ado, here are the top five problems for 2008:

    1.      Alarm hazards

    2.      Needlesticks and injuries from sharps

    3.      Air embolisms from contrast media injectors

    4.      Retained devices and fragments left in patients

    5.      Surgical fires

Five hazards, including air embolisms from contrast injectors, make their debut this year, shouldering aside some doozies, like infusion pump programming errors and the misconnection of blood pressure monitors to IV lines. . . .

Alt [the report's author] says the report is intended to highlight all the things that can go wrong, so users can understand “where things can fall apart” and take steps to avoid problems. And while some problems involve a faulty device alone, he says, there’s usually some contribution from the operator. “No one reads the manual, or even has the manual after day one,” he says. Even if they are trained properly, he adds, “they get busy or move on to something else.”

I am thinking that this list will never make it to David Letterman -- it really isn't funny at all.  If more people new about these event, however, perhaps there wouldn't need to be such a list.

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