Hospitals Create Teams To Review New Tech, Prevent Patient Harm

August 19, 2014 in News

Some hospitals and health systems are taking steps to study and better integrate new technology, such as electronic health records, to reduce the risk of providers making errors when using new tools, Modern Healthcare reports.


Experts have said that health IT-related errors are common and often occur when new technologies are introduced without properly analyzing how staff members will interact with the devices. However, providers do not regularly report technology errors, and few measures exist to make sure providers learn from others’ mistakes.

A Joint Commission report found that human-factor issues were the most commonly identified root causes of events such as medication errors and treatment delays between 2011 and 2013. Ana Pujols-McKee, CMO of the Joint Commission, said, “It’s the interface of the human with the technology that creates a problem.”

To address the issue and improve patient safety, some hospitals and health systems have established human-factor research teams that conduct real-life simulations to test new technology. According to Modern Healthcare, there is not exact data on how many such teams exist in the U.S., but the Society for Simulation in Healthcare have identified at least 165 simulation centers throughout the country. These teams aim to:

  • Develop clinical training guidelines;
  • Examine the potential for human error; and
  • Identify any technical issues.

Meanwhile, some hospitals rely on multidisciplinary teams to evaluate evolving technology.


To further reduce the risk of patient harm by new technology, some experts have called for a national surveillance system to better track patient-safety events, while others recommend mandatory staff training.

When adopting new technology, experts recommend the providers:

  • Ask questions about the problems they are trying to address before purchasing to ensure the new technology will fulfill the hospital’s need;
  • Determine whether the technology advances medical care and quality at a better cost;
  • Ensure that budgets include resources for training individuals on the new devices; and
  • Temper staff’s enthusiasm about the new technology with messages of caution and safety (Rice, Modern Healthcare, 8/16).
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