ECRI Blog

Medication Safety and Error Prevention: Efforts Should Focus on Systems Solutions

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

Many people take medicine without enough thought to medication safety issues, such as following dosage directions, being aware of medication interactions and side-effects, or weighing other important considerations.

With the sheer volume of medicines taken every day, there is ample opportunity for harm to occur.

In the U.S. alone, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/ National Center for Health Statistics estimated that:

  • About 50% of Americans use at least one prescription drug daily; 24% use three or more; and 12.8% use five or more prescription drugs
  • 860.4 million prescriptions are written during physician office visits
  • 336 million drugs are given or prescribed during hospital emergency department visits

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Topics: Patient Safety

How to Prevent the Spread of Infection in Healthcare Settings

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Aug 23, 2022

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are longstanding problems in hospitals and healthcare. These infections can be caused by a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and can lead to a number of serious complications, including death.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that we think about healthcare as this unprecedented infectious disease not only spread quickly and posed major health issues for the general population, but also encouraged the spread of infections in healthcare facilities across the nations. In fact, recent reports offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate how quickly hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) can become a problem among patients, especially in the face of a pandemic. Research from 2021 reveals that, in comparison to 2019, healthcare settings experienced:

  • Increased incidences of central line-associated bloodstream infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Increased device-associated infections as a result of consistently changing safety guidelines and protocols
  • Increased ventilator-associated events in the first quarter and third quarter of 2021

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Topics: Patient Safety

Managing Monkeypox: Take 3 Steps Now to Protect Patients and Staff

After three long years of managing COVID-19, the world is facing another public health crisis: monkeypox.

According to the World Health Organization, “Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and West Africa, and is occasionally exported to other regions.” Humans can get monkeypox through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with contaminated material. In turn, they can spread it to other humans through close contact with lesions, respiratory droplets, body fluids, and contaminated items such as sheets and pillowcases. Monkeypox usually causes a fever, a painful rash that turns into blisters, and swollen lymph nodes.

In May of this year, cases of monkeypox became more wide-spread, especially in regions not typically known to experience the disease. Monkeypox was identified in 89 counties, 82 of which historically have not had monkeypox outbreaks. In the United States, cases have been identified in all but one state, with 11,890 cases total. More than 500 cases each have been identified in Florida, California, Georgia, and Illinois. On August 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

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Topics: Patient Safety

What is Near-Miss Reporting? And How Can it Save Lives?

The ECRI and ISMP Patient Safety Organization has reached a milestone: more than 5 million events reported since its inception. However, two thirds of the reports were about actual events that reached the patient. Only 15% were labeled as “near miss” events, incidences that were "close calls." This is despite the well-known fact that near miss events are 10 to 100 times more common than actual events. Why is that?

Patient safety experts have long emphasized the necessity of creating a culture in which healthcare providers can freely report errors or other potentially avoidable events. This information can be protected by submitting the report, and all the investigations associated with it, to a patient safety organization (PSO). An exception exists only for events that must be reported to the state or an accreditation agency, but even there, any investigations and deliberations are protected when reported to a PSO under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.

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Topics: Patient Safety

5 Traits to Help Your Team Become a High Reliability Organization

Achieving the status “High Reliability Organization (HRO)” is now the gold standard for healthcare organizations, but there is little agreement on how to achieve it. To help you move your organization toward this important goal, let’s try to make that term clearer. Authors Weick and Sutcliffe first used the phrase in their 2001 book, Managing the Unexpected, now in its 3rd revision (Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M., 2015 Managing the unexpected, John Wiley & Sons).

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Topics: Patient Safety

ECRI's Health Technology Excellence Award: Recognizing Exceptional Health Technology Management

Posted by Edward Nuber, Director of Marketing, ECRI on Apr 26, 2022

A popular folk musician once said, “You just get the vibe of your surroundings, and it rubs off on you.” Indeed, surroundings are very important; and when a pleasing aesthetic melds with functionality “the vibe” gets even better, and so does effectiveness. Such innovation helps drive success, and in healthcare, it even helps improve the patient experience, cost management, staff satisfaction, and outcomes.

This year, the winner of ECRI’s annual Health Technology Excellence Award (formerly known as the Health Devices Achievement Award) has demonstrated a high commitment to iinnovation resulting in improvements that will advance both patient care and comfort. ECRI proudly named McLaren Northern Michigan the winner for the member facility’s exceptional initiative to improve patient safety, reduce costs, or otherwise facilitate better strategic management of health technology.

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Topics: Patient Safety

Why You Need a Patient Safety Organization (PSO)

Healthcare workers want to keep patients safe and provide high quality care. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, erroneous, substandard, and unequal care are still too common, harming 1 in 10 hospitalized patients in the US. Today’s evidence-based Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) are working toward zero-avoidable-harm healthcare. Choosing the right PSO can help your organization reach this goal.

The World Health Organization defines Patient Safety as: “A framework of organized activities that creates cultures, processes, procedures, behaviors, technologies and environments in health care that consistently and sustainably lower risks, reduce the occurrence of avoidable harm, make errors less likely and reduce the impact of harm when it does occur.”

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Topics: Patient Safety

ECRI's Top 10 Patient Safety Risks for 2022

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

An important part of maintaining patient safety is establishing the shared belief that despite the high-risk environment in healthcare, patient safety is possible, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Creating awareness of common problems and opening a dialogue about prevention, learning, and solutions can help.

To that end, ECRI annually publishes a list of its top 10 patient safety concerns, and we are pleased to share the 2022 list with you here. ECRI analyzed a wide scope of data, including scientific literature, patient safety events or concerns reported to or investigated by ECRI, client research requests and queries, and other internal and external data sources.

Like it has done to almost everything else in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped this year’s list. The annual list is usually topped by clinical issues caused by device malfunctions or medical errors. But this year, staffing shortages and healthcare workers’ mental health top a list of patient safety concerns released by ECRI. Inadequate staffing is jeopardizing patient safety. Due to staffing shortages, many patients are waiting longer for care, even in life-threatening emergencies, or simply being turned away.

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Topics: Patient Safety

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

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: Patient Safety

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