A list of the top 10 medical technology hazards identified by the Emergency Care Research Institute and released recently identifies alarm fatigue in hospitals, as the biggest health technology risk today.
Alarm fatigue is the name given to a phenomenon in which nurses may simply become desensitized to the vast number of alarms that frequently go off in the work environment. In a modern hospital, alarms alert nurses to every tiny change in a patient's medical condition, and when a nurse in a busy hospital environment hears alarms going off every few seconds, there is a risk of becoming desensitized to these alerts. Over a period of time, many of these alerts may be ignored to the detriment of patient safety.
Apart from alarm fatigue, the report also mentions other technology hazards, including
The risk of medication errors due to inappropriate use of infusion pumps
The risk of radiation exposure from CT scans in pediatric patients
The risk from failures of electronic health record systems and information technology systems in hospitals,
The risks arising from the failure take into account the effect of modifications made in one part of a hospital’s networked information technology, on other components of the system
Radiation hazards involving doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in hybrid operating rooms, which integrate the use of sophisticated medical imaging equipment
The risks arising from inadequate processing of surgical instruments
Failure to account for errors from inaccurate data entered into electronic health record systems
The risks to pediatric patients from the use of technologies are meant for adults
The risk of robotic surgery complications as a result of insufficient staff training
Surgical item retention or surgical items left behind in a patient’s body during surgery
The report also presents several ways to mitigate these risks, and is a must- read for decision makers at every hospital or health care facility.