Top 10 Medical Technology Hazards List – “Top 10” Health IT List Series

This next list I found in my series of Top Health IT lists is going to be one that I think surprises quite a few people. It’s the list (PDF) of Top 10 Technology Hazards for 2012 by the ECRI. The Power Your Practice website did an interview with James P. Keller Jr. who works at the ECRI Institute about this list which is worth reading. Before the interview, they explain that the ECRI (Emergency Care Research Institute) was created in 1964 after a young boy in a Philadelphia ER passed away as a result of an improperly preserved defibrillator.

For this list, I’m not planning to go through each item, but I will list each item:
1. Alarm hazards
2. Exposure hazards from radiation therapy and CT
3. Medication administration errors using infusion pumps
4. Cross-contamination from flexible endoscopes
5. Inattention to change management for medical device connectivity
6. Enteral feeding misconnections
7. Surgical fires
8. Needlesticks and other sharps injuries
9. Anesthesia hazards due to incomplete pre-use inspection
10. Poor usability of home-use medical devices

The PDF document above goes into a lot more detail for each of these items including suggestions on ways to prevent these problems. I imagine many hospital safety organizations already know about these things and lists like this one.

Many are probably wondering why I’m bringing this list up on an EMR and HIPAA website. Besides the fact that the list is interesting on its own, I was also really intrigued that there’s nothing on the list that’s even remotely related to EMR & EHR software.

I’m sure if we sat down for just a little bit we could think of quite a few technology hazards related to EMR and EHR software. Not the least of which is EHR down time. I’m also reminded of this post I did earlier this year titled “EMR Perpetuates Misinformation.” Yet, EHR didn’t make the list…yet(?).

It will be interesting to watch this health technology hazards list over time to see if EHR software ever makes the list. I wonder how many hospital patient safety groups are worried about the safety of EHR software. I’ll have to get Katherine Rourke to dig into this over on Hospital EMR and EHR.

Be sure to read the rest of my Health IT Top 10 as they’re posted.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Our non-healthcare friends really find it hard to believe that surgical fires are a thing, much less that they’re fairly major problem. It’s like the ultimate “adding insult to injury” scenario.

  • No. 5 is an EHR issue; the connection points are frequently problem areas. The intent for EHRs to have interconnectivity with multiple devices/apps/systems will require testing (and consideration of possible unintended outcomes). And it will require that parties from each connection point (& probably others) participate to insure a good implementation/upgrade; getting cooperation all the time is frequently a problem.

  • Sally,
    Good point. Interfaces of any kind are always problematic. Definitely requires some work and planning to make it work right. Particularly during an upgrade. Definitely isn’t easy to get both sides on the same page.

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