ECRI Blog

The “Great Resignation” Hits Healthcare Where it already Hurts: Staffing Shortages

Across industries, the topic of worker shortages has dominated conversations because the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the “great resignation.” And healthcare is no exception. But in healthcare, the stakes are greater than other industries because patient safety directly correlates to adequate staffing. Issues such as quality of care, medication errors, patient satisfaction, higher patient mortality, overcrowding, and more all can be linked to adequate staffing. With patient safety in mind, ECRI’s Top 10 Patient Safety list names staffing shortages as the number one challenge of the year.

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Topics: Risk Management, Patient Safety, COVID-19, Clinical Excellence, ECRI, Leadership, Pandemic Leadership, Thought Leadership, Public Health, Nursing shortage

4 Types of Healthcare Workplace Violence and ECRI's Guidance for Action Plans

Stop Violence educacional message on blackboard

Healthcare workers are known to suffer slip and falls, needle sticks, and back pain, but unfortunately, they also can face violence on the job. Recent shocking headlines include: Nurse Found Dead from Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound after Allegedly Setting Colleague on Fire; Maine Nurses Face Increased Levels of Physical, Verbal Abuse by Patients; Nursing Assistant Gunned Down by Coworker Left Behind Three Children… And while workplace violence has been a dangerous risk among healthcare workers for years, experts believe the COVID-19 pandemic, and its added stresses and mental health challenges, have exacerbated violence.

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Topics: Risk Management, Patient Safety, COVID-19, Clinical Excellence, ECRI, Leadership, Pandemic Leadership, Thought Leadership, Public Health, workplace violence

PPE Mask Checklist for Better Omicron Protection: Wear This, Not That

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Feb 18, 2022

In the halls of government, school board meetings, and neighborhood shopping centers across the world, debates continue about the value of masking for protection against COVID-19 infections. But ECRI experts and other healthcare leaders stress that now is no time to let our guard down nor shed our PPE masks.

Rather, let’s take what we’ve learned about PPE during this pandemic, and use it to better protect ourselves against COVID-19’s omicron variant, which is estimated to be two to four times more contagious than earlier strains of the virus. We know that masks work, wearing a mask reduces the speed of virus transmission, and not all masks are created equal.

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Topics: Risk Management, Patient Safety, Supply Chain, COVID-19, Clinical Excellence, ECRI, Leadership, Pandemic Leadership, Thought Leadership, Public Health, PPE Masks

To Reduce Malpractice Claims Improve Communication

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Feb 11, 2022

"Communication failures cost 1.5 times as much as claims without communication failures, and were more than twice as likely to result in a payout of more than $1 million," the Journal of Patient Safety study noted.

Roughly 20,000 malpractice claims are filed annually in the U.S. alone, and half of all physicians will be sued sometime during the course of a career. During the pandemic, lower numbers of claims were reported from some institutions, but others, such as those in aging services, continue to face this challenge without relief. And even with some reduction in occurrences, malpractice insurance rates continue to rise. Most importantly, claims are tied to patient care and safety, the metric most important to those who work tirelessly to provide care during what is now the third trying year of this pandemic.

Newly published information reveals ineffective and non-existent communication as significant threats to patient safety. You might ask, “How can communication be such a problem when we work closely together, huddle, and meet often?” It’s a oversimplified example, but we all remember the childhood game of “whisper down the lane,” where the original message never matched the message received by the last person in the line.” Communication can be incomplete, misinterpreted, or flat-out incorrect. The good news is, there are ways to improve communications and subsequently improve patient safety and reduce medical malpractice claims.

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Topics: Risk Management, Patient Safety, Aging/Continuum of Care, COVID-19, Aging Services, Clinical Excellence, ECRI, Value-based care, Leadership

Supply Chain Shortages Ranked Second Among Top 10 Risks Facing Healthcare Organizations

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Jan 28, 2022

ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2022 ranks supply chain shortages among the top three risks facing healthcare organizations. The ranking is for good reason: patient lives may be at risk if essential medical supplies and equipment are unavailable. This risk increases as global supply chain disruption continues to impact healthcare organizations. According to an October 2021 report on healthcare performance, at least 80 percent of hospitals reported supply shortages.

Shortages can stem from the impact of the pandemic, which has sometimes brought manufacturing to a halt. Others are the result of vulnerabilities in traditional supply chain planning, such as keeping limited amounts of products in storage and relying on fast delivery. Weather events and other force majeure incidents also play a role. Together, these create a cascade effect that causes many healthcare organizations to struggle to locate, purchase, and obtain supplies:  

  • Raw material shortages increase prices and reduce output. For example, shortages of resin impact the availability of plastic and magnesium shortages affect the availability of aluminum – causing issues for manufacturers.
  • Suppliers who rely heavily on offshore manufacturers that have been disrupted by the pandemic or global weather events need to find supplies elsewhere.
  • Supply chain practices and other pressures reduced organizations’ stockpiles of critical supplies. “Just-in-time’ supply chain models, designed to reduce the need for physical inventory, are upended when products can’t be sourced or delivered on time.  
  • Logistical challenges, such as ongoing trucking, shipping, and delivery issues brought on by the pandemic, delay delivery of critical supplies.  
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Topics: Risk Management, Health Devices, Supply Chain, Technology Trends, Equipment Planning, COVID-19, Clinical Excellence, ECRI, Clinical Evidence Assessment, Evidence-based decision making, Value-based care, Best-practice evidence-based medicine, Leadership, Inventory

ECRI Evidence Boot Camp 2021 Recap: Effective Methods for Rapidly Assessing the Best Available Evidence

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Jan 13, 2022

Refresh your evidence assessment knowledge of important topics discussed at ECRI's Evidence boot camp event: Effective Methods for Rapidly Assessing the Best Available Evidence

Healthcare payers, providers, and other audiences gathered this past fall to gain strategic insights in discussion about clinical evidence assessment of healthcare technologies. The event was backed by an experienced team consisting of multi-disciplinary experts across ECRI–PhD-level analysts and directors from Clinical Evidence Assessment, Clinical Excellence, Evidence-based Practice Center; Master-level Librarians; and guest panelists, who made the event interactive and informative.

Key learning objectives included:

  • Demonstrate key clinical evidence concepts

  • Understand considerations for choosing The Evidence Bar™, an at-a-glance visual representation of the balance of benefits and harms, in ECRI’s rapid clinical evidence assessment reports about healthcare technologies

  • Identify real-world evidence examples and considerations in clinical evidence assessment and decision-making

  • Recognize the highest standards and evolving tools employed in ECRI’s rapid assessment of the best available evidence

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Topics: Patient Safety, Clinical Excellence, Evidence-Based Medicine, ECRI, Clinical Evidence Assessment, Informed Decision-making

Addressing Discharge Delays as Opportunity for Healthcare Efficiency Gains and Safety Gains

This position statement provides real time information to support policy decisions. This excerpt is from “Rethinking Patient Discharge: A Low-cost Opportunity for Healthcare Efficiency Gains” (Caligiuri C, Penzo-Mendez A, Mueller B. 2021 Dec). 

Patient discharge delays are a source of healthcare inefficiencies

Frustration over hospital discharge delays and the bottlenecks they create are a familiar experience to patients and staff. Hours are wasted while inpatients wait to leave, staff wait for free beds, and new patients wait for initial evaluation in overcrowded emergency departments (EDs). In addition to causing revenue losses, discharge delays may put patients at risk. Anxiety, depression, physical decline from immobility, and risks of infections, bedsores, and falls all increase the longer the patient stays in the hospital, and clinical studies show higher morbidity and mortality in patients whose discharge is delayed. ED overcrowding can lead to serious adverse events from delayed critical care and medical errors, and some patients may become so frustrated that they choose to leave before being seen.

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Topics: Patient Safety, Clinical Excellence, Evidence-based decision making

A Better Way to Manage Your Supply Chain Needs

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Aug 25, 2021

During the past year, we were reminded of the critical role that supply chain plays in clinical care and overall operations. While our industry has adapted and grown to weather the COVID crisis, now is no time to return to business as usual. The roller coaster ride has slowed, but not stopped; supply chain still faces tremendous challenges such as product shortages, geo-political implications, increased costs, longer delivery times, worker shortages, lack of transparency, and other inventory challenges. Consider the following:

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Topics: Supply Chain, Technology Trends, Equipment Planning, Clinical Excellence, Evidence-Based Medicine, Clinical Evidence Assessment, Evidence-based decision making, Value-based care, Best-practice evidence-based medicine

Evidence-Based Medicine: A Powerful Tool for Supporting Physician Engagement and Improving Value-Based Care Outcomes

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Jun 18, 2021

Healthcare administrators, value analysis, and clinical leaders constantly strive for greater performance, better clinical outcomes, and higher physician engagement. But while the need to nurture and achieve these priorities all at once remains strong, there is an underlying struggle on how to accomplish these distinct, yet interdependent goals.

Andrew Furman, MD, MMM, FACEP, Executive Director, Clinical Excellence at ECRI delved into these challenges as a featured speaker at the member-only 2021 Spring Vanguard Meeting of the American Association for Physician Leadership held on Friday, June 11.

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Topics: Supporting Physicians, Clinical Excellence, Physician Engagement, Evidence-Based Medicine, Clinical Evidence Assessment, Evidence-based decision making, Value-based care, Best-practice evidence-based medicine

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