Patient Infection Risks Prominent on ECRI Annual List of Health Tech Hazards

ECRI Institute has included three potential sources of patient infections on its "2019 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards" list.

They are as follows:

  • #2: Mattresses Remaining Contaminated After Cleaning. ECRI notes, "Blood and other body fluids that remain on, or within, mattresses or mattress covers after cleaning can contact subsequent patients, posing an infection risk."

  • #3: Retained Surgical Sponges. ECRI notes, "Surgical sponges that are unintentionally left inside the patient after the surgical site is closed can lead to infection and other serious complications, including the need for secondary operations."

  • #5: Recontamination of Endoscopes After Disinfection. ECRI notes, "Failure to precisely follow a robust reprocessing protocol can lead to debilitating or even fatal infections. Less well known is that improper handling and storage practices can recontaminate previously disinfected scopes, heightening the risk of patient infections."

Rounding out the top 5 were "Hackers Exploiting Remote Access Vulnerabilities" (#1) and "Improperly Set Ventilator Alarms" (#4).

To select topics for its 2019 list, ECRI stated it accepted nominations from ECRI engineers, scientists, clinicians and other patient safety analysts and also considered health-technology-related problem reports received through its Problem Reporting Network and through data that participating facilities share with its patient safety organization. ECRI hopes its lists can serve as a "starting point for discussions, helping healthcare organizations plan and prioritize their patient safety efforts," according to news release.

Infection risks also took top spots in ECRI's 2018 health technology hazards list, with endoscope reprocessing at #2, mattress and mattress cover contamination at #3 and improper cleaning and device failures at #5.

In a recent column for Becker's Clinical Leadership & Infection Control, Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) Founder and President Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, shared common infection prevention and control deficiency findings in healthcare facilities. It's not surprising to see how deficiencies identified in this article can contribute to patient infection risks highlighted in ECRI's report.

The 2019 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards executive brief is available for complimentary download at