ECRI Releases Top Health Technology Hazards for 2021

The Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) released its 2021 list of technology hazards to help healthcare facilities effectively manage risks involving the use of medical devices and systems. The report explains that the proper use of healthcare technology requires organizations to identify potential dangers associated with its use.

To mitigate the risk of adverse events, healthcare leaders are advised to consider the following technology concerns, which range from basic devices to complex information systems, in the coming year. The list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Managing Medical Devices with COVID-19 Emergency Use Authorization (EUA): Devices must be closely monitored to ensure an EUA, and its associated legal protections, remain active;
  • Fatal Medication Errors Resulting from Entry Fields that Populate After Only a Few Letters: This feature increases the risk of an incorrect medication selection since similar-looking drug names populate. “Increasing the number of characters entered from three to five greatly reduces the possible number of matches,” says ECRI;
  • Patient and Data Risks Stemming from Rapid Adoption of Telehealth: Hasty transition to new telehealth care delivery models did not allow most health systems to properly train users, account for cybersecurity controls or address inequitable patient access to technology. Institutions may now have to consider modifications and refiguration pertaining to telehealth delivery;
  • Inadequate Protection from Infectious Respiratory Diseases Due to Use of Imported N95-Style Masks: To adequately protect workers, healthcare facilities using non-NIOSH-certified respirators must verify the models are properly tested before use during treatment of COVID-19 patients; and
  • Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Resulting from Third-party Software: ECRI explains, “Third-party software components that are incorporated into medical devices pose unique cybersecurity challenges” because they can disrupt patient care or lead to data breaches. Protection against these risks requires adoption of protocol and tools that prevent devices from being compromised.

ECRI says its 14th edition list reflects risks that should be prioritized based on the current environment. With an anticipated return to normalcy, healthcare organizations must transition from emergency response mode to developing strong, effective and resilient processes that incorporate thoughtful use of technology.

ECRI members can download the complete report, which also includes details on UV disinfection devices, consumer-grade healthcare products, artificial intelligence for diagnostic imaging, remote operation of medical devices and 3D-printing of patient-specific devices, as well as direction for addressing these hazards.

MLMIC recognizes that the risks of technology in healthcare have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend that all our insured facilities and providers remain informed of risks and strategies to mitigate the potential for adverse outcomes related to the use of technology in their clinical settings. 

Additionally, MLMIC policyholders are encouraged to monitor our blog and review our Risk Management Tips with recommendations for minimizing risk associated with these topics.