ECRI Blog

Healthcare Heroes Need Help Too: Mental Health Issues Grow with Pandemic Stresses

ECRI this year, named healthcare worker mental health as its second of ten patient safety concerns for 2022.

For years, the healthcare community has known that the stresses of the profession can take a toll on those in direct care roles. Healthcare is hard work, physically and emotionally. Challenges such as staffing shortages, patient load, workplace violence, liaising with other caregivers, patients, and families, and even lack of basic bathroom and meal breaks, can contribute to exhaustion, depression, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, hopelessness, and fear.

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Topics: Patient Safety, COVID-19, ECRI, Leadership, Pandemic Leadership, Thought Leadership, Public Health, Nursing shortage, Healthcare worker burnout, Mental Health, Burnout, physician suicide

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 Guidance: Legality and Ethics of Refusing to Treat Unvaccinated Patients

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Dec 15, 2021

Two full years after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus first appeared, the world is still grappling with this highly contagious, infectious disease. The state of the virus has ebbed and flowed: periods of declining spread are followed by the emergence of new variants; the delta variant dominated 2021, and in just the past month, the omicron variant was classified by the World Health Organization as a "variant of concern."

Perhaps the most hopeful development in protecting individuals from severe illness related to COVID-19 has been the advent of several vaccines. They are especially important for those at greatest risk for the worst outcomes of COVID-19, such as the elderly or immunocompromised, as well as healthcare workers whose jobs place them at increased risk of exposure. And yet, vaccine hesitancy remains a challenge in the United States and worldwide. 

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Topics: Risk Management, Patient Safety, Diversity and Inclusion, COVID-19, Vaccine Acceptance, Supporting Physicians, Physician Engagement, ECRI, Leadership, Healthcare Leader, Vaccines, Vaccine Hesitancy, Medical Ethics

Leadership Means Never Going It Alone

As president and CEO of the nation’s largest patient safety organization, I had the privilege of leading ECRI through a dangerous time for humanity. Overnight, the insidious COVID-19 virus sent our 500-plus employees home to work remotely, but we never missed a beat. We were resilient; and we focused on searching for answers that would mean the difference between life and death for millions of people infected with SARS-CoV-2.

When the Philadelphia Business Journal honored me as a Healthcare Leader for 2021, I was humbled and grateful, but I knew the award belonged to and was representative of the extraordinary work that ECRI’s employees undertook to provide assurance to our global healthcare constituents and to make patients and healthcare providers safer in a time of crisis.

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Topics: Patient Safety, Diversity and Inclusion, COVID-19, Vaccine Acceptance, ECRI, Evidence-based decision making, Value-based care, Leadership, Healthcare Leader, Pandemic Leadership, Vaccines

Increase in HAIs Attributed to COVID-19 Burden on Providers

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Oct 21, 2021
The first rule of healthcare is, “Do no harm.” Healthcare providers live by that oath. But sometimes, despite providers’ best efforts, patients obtain hospital acquired infections (HAIs) while receiving care.

In recent years, efforts to reduce HAIs have been successful, with annual cases dropping more and more each year. However, in 2020, there was an increase in HAIs, causing healthcare leaders to examine the reasons behind this spike and if the increase was related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the burden it placed on healthcare facilities and staff.

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Topics: Risk Management, Health Devices, Patient Safety, COVID-19, Physician Engagement

Masks in Schools? Findings of ECRI's Evidence-Based Assessment Report

Some 18 months after the COVID-19 pandemic altered daily life, it continues to influence how people in the U.S. and across the globe live, play, work, and educate children.

COVID’s Delta variant, a highly contagious, more infectious strain has led to increased transmissibility when compared with other variants and prompted the U.S. to renew the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration. Delta has caused an increased number of cases, including breakthrough cases in some vaccinated people, as well as rising hospitalizations, especially in regions with low vaccination rates.

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Topics: COVID-19, Evidence-Based Medicine, Clinical Evidence Assessment, Evidence-based decision making

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