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Top patient safety concerns in 2019

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For the past ten years, ECRI Institute has compiled a list of Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns “to support organizations in their efforts to proactively identify and respond to threats to patient safety.” The list does not necessarily include issues that occur frequently or that are considered the most severe. Rather, the annual list “identifies concerns that might be high priorities for other reasons, such as new risks, existing concerns that are changing because of new technology or care delivery models, and persistent issues that need focused attention or pose new opportunities for intervention.”

The top patient safety concerns in 2019, according to the ERCI Institute, are:

  1. Diagnostic Stewardship and Test Result Management Using EHRs – Diagnoses, test results, and follow-up treatment instructions must be clearly communicated in electronic health records (EHRs). The Institute advises that “providers must not only fully utilize an EHR designed to meet their practices’ unique needs, but also recognize the importance of clear communication, both among caregivers and between caregivers and patients.”
  2. Antimicrobial Stewardship in Physician Practices and Aging Services – Overprescribing antibiotics and overreliance on antibiotics can put patients at risk.
  3. Burnout and Its Impact on Patient Safety – Physician burnout can result from the stress of working too many hours or attempting to care for too many patients. Burnout can be a significant factor in provider errors, impacting patient safety and care quality.
  4. Patient Safety Concerns Involving Mobile Health – Patient safety issues around new mobile health technology include “lack of regulation of new technologies, barriers to ensuring that providers are accurately receiving the data a device collects, and the possibility that a patient is not using the technology correctly or is not using it at all.”
  5. Reducing Discomfort with Behavioral Health – Behavioral health can impact physical health; when the two are siloed and treated separately, the patient’s overall well being can be negatively affected.
  6. Detecting Changes in a Patient’s Condition – Care transitions can often result in a lack of communication about a patient’s condition. Providers need to communicate with each and with the patients’ family to ensure they have a clear understanding of any changes in the patient’s condition.
  7. Developing and Maintaining Skills – Clinical staff’s lack of training, particularly on the use of equipment or technology, can severely impact a patient’s health and safety.
  8. Early Recognition of Sepsis across the Continuum – Protocols, communication, and collaboration are needed for physicians and clinical staff to be able to recognize the symptoms of sepsis early enough to treat it effectively.
  9. Infections from Peripherally Inserted IV Lines – PIVs that are inserted just in case the patient needs it “can expose patients to a significant risk of infection—one that is underreported, underrecognized, and often ignored.”
  10. Standardizing Safety Efforts across Large Health Systems – Multiple layers within a large organization can affect a patient’s health and safety. In healthcare facilities of all sizes, “the goal is to institute structures that effectively allow patient safety leaders to support organization leadership in engaging with patient safety priorities.”