Some high-tech problems demand low-tech solutions

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Training is the most effective approach to four of the top-10 health technology hazards on an annual list released this month by ECRI Institute, a non-profit research and risk management firm. ECRI recommends better training, often combined with oversight and credentialing, to lessen patient safety risks associated with:

  • surgical staplers,
  • point-of-care ultrasound,
  • home dialysis and
  • surgical robots.

For a fifth health technology hazard — cognitive overload caused by too many alarm notifications — ECRI suggests training in critical thinking in addition to implementing measures to reduce the number of alarms overall. Other hazards on the list include dose-timing discrepancies and device-related problems during MRI procedures. At the low-tech end of the spectrum, ECRI advises clinical engineers be mindful that “loose nuts and bolts can lead to catastrophic device failures and severe injury,” and urges clinicians and other users to report loose fasteners for repair. 


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