News – Data Integrity Tops List of Patient Safety Concerns


ECRI Institute has added a new “top 10” list to its other offerings and to the popular trend of enumerating the pressing issues that healthcare organizations face today. ECRI describes the list of patient safety concerns and suggests ways to mitigate the risks in a new report, Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations, which is available for download at (registration required).

Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2014

  1. Data integrity failures with health information technology systems
  2. Poor care coordination with patient’s next level of care
  3. Test results reporting errors
  4. Drug shortages
  5. Failure to adequately manage behavioral health patients in acute care settings
  6. Mislabeled specimens
  7. Retained devices and unretrieved fragments
  8. Patient falls while toileting
  9. Inadequate monitoring for respiratory depression in patients taking opioids
  10. Inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes and surgical instruments

Problems with the integrity of data in information technology (IT) systems top the list. That is not surprising given the complex issues involved in gathering and sharing health data, rapid implementation of health IT systems given a boost by deadlines related to the HITECH incentive program, and frequent complaints voiced especially by the clinicians who use these systems. Data integrity in health IT also appears as number 4 on the 2014 version of ECRI’s List of Top 10 Health Technology Hazards.

As with ECRI’s third annual offering, a top-10 “watch list” designed to help members of hospital C-suites discern the advantages and risks of emerging technologies, the lists of patient safety and technology concerns are intended to help organizations prioritize their efforts to improve the safety and quality of care delivery as well as to inform decisions that are good for the organization. While most of ECRI’s clients are hospitals and health systems, many issues on the patient safety list — data integrity, care coordination, mislabeling, drug shortages, and patient falls — apply also to
physician practices and long-term care.

The top-10 patient safety concerns are based on data submitted voluntarily to the ECRI Patient Safety Organization (PSO). The ECRI PSO’s database includes research requests, root-cause analyses, and more than 300,000 incident reports. To develop the final list, ECRI identified approximately 20 issues that emerged from analyzing the database and then asked a panel comprised of members of the ECRI Institute staff and its PSO advisory council to identified the final top 10 concerns.