Health IT System Failures Top ECRI’s List of Hospital Concerns

April 23, 2014 in News

Health IT system failures will be the top patient safety concern facing hospitals this year, according to a new report by research firm ECRI Institute, Modern Healthcare reports.

Criteria for Identifying Hazards

For the report, ECRI researchers analyzed voluntarily reported data from more than 1,200 U.S. hospitals on nearly 400,000 patient-safety events. The researchers identified more than 20 potential patient safety issues in the data, and a multidisciplinary team narrowed the list down to 10 ranked concerns (Rice, Modern Healthcare, 4/22)

Top 10 Hazards

According to the report, the top 10 patient safety issues of 2014 will be:

  1. Data integrity failures with IT systems;
  2. Poor coordination of patient care;
  3. Reporting errors in test results;
  4. Drug shortages;
  5. Failure to manage patients with behavioral health issues appropriately in acute care settings;
  6. Mislabeled specimens;
  7. Foreign object and fragments left in patients during procedures;
  8. Patient falls while using the toilet;
  9. Failure to adequately monitor respiratory depression among patients taking opioids; and
  10. Inadequate reprocessing of surgical instruments and endoscopes (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 4/22).

Specifically, the report noted that data integrity in health IT systems can be compromised by:

  • Association errors in patients’ EHRs;
  • Data entry errors;
  • Delayed data delivery;
  • Copying and pasting;
  • Inappropriate use of default values;
  • Missing data or delayed data delivery; and
  • Simultaneous use of paper and electronic systems (Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 4/22).


To avoid the kinds of failures outlined in the report, ECRI suggested that facilities assess their clinical data workflow, test their IT system, and provide sufficient training and support to employees.

The report also recommended that care coordination be a “shared responsibility” among providers.

ECRI researcher Lorraine Possanza said that one “simple and basic” strategy to improve care between hospitals and ambulatory settings is to provide all current contact information, such as phone and fax numbers, on facility websites. She added that organizations should “identify the providers in your practice. If the hospital needs to contact you, the information is right there” (Gold, FierceHealthIT, 4/22).

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