ECRI Institute Announces its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2012

Dangers from clinical alarms, radiation exposure, and medication errors from infusion devices top this year’s list.


Nov. 8, 2011, Plymouth Meeting, PA—Health technology offers countless benefits, but also some real risks. What are the most serious device-related risks, and how can hospitals address them? ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, answers which risks should be part of every hospital’s patient safety initiatives with the release of its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2012.

Now in its 5th year of publication, ECRI Institute’s annual Top 10 hazard list is a comprehensive report designed to raise awareness of the potential dangers associated with the use of medical devices and systems. Most significantly, the report includes action-oriented recommendations on addressing these risks. The top five hazards on ECRI Institute’s 2012 list are:

  1. Alarm hazards
  2. Exposure hazards from radiation therapy and computed tomography (CT)
  3. Medication administration errors using infusion pumps
  4. Cross-contamination from flexible endoscopes
  5. Inattention to change management for medical device connectivity

“With so many health technologies being used today, it can be difficult for hospitals to decide how to?prioritize their safety efforts,” says James P. Keller, Jr., ECRI Institute’s Vice President, Health ?Technology Evaluation and Safety. "Our list can be used as a guide to help hospitals focus on the most important issues.”

The Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list is updated each year based upon information found in ECRI Institute’s medical device problem reporting databases, ECRI Institute PSO, and the judgment, analysis, and expertise of the organization’s multidisciplinary patient safety staff. Some hazards remain for several years if still deemed critical, and others are removed to make room for new more pressing safety concerns.

Each of the hazards in the 2012 report met one or more of the following criteria:


It has resulted in injury or death

It has occurred frequently

It can affect a large number of individuals

It has had a high profile or wide-spread news coverage

Lastly, to make the list, there had to be clear steps that hospitals can take now to minimize the risks from each of the hazards.

This year, in addition to the published top 10 report, ECRI Institute has developed a web-based survey tool to help hospitals easily assess their facility’s risk in each of the ten areas. The new tool is available exclusively to members of ECRI Institute’s Health Devices System.

“Every hospital should develop a team of health technology safety champions,” says Keller. “Their number one assignment should be to protect their patients from the type of risks on our list. The new self-assessment tool was designed to help them do that.”

The Top 10 Health Technology Hazards List for 2012 is available for free download from ECRI Institute’s website at: www.ecri.org/2012_Top_10_Hazards. To watch a short video about this year’s list, click here.

The top 10 list was originally published in the November 2011 issue of ECRI Institute’s Health Devices journal. The journal is provided to members of ECRI Institute’s Health Devices System, Health Devices Gold, and SELECTplus™ programs. Health Devices journals feature comparative, brand-name evaluations of medical devices and systems based on extensive laboratory testing and clinical studies. ECRI Institute’s evaluations focus on the safety, performance, efficacy, and human factors design of specific medical devices and technologies.

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