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Hospital Tech Hazards

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Although hospitals are typically thought of as places of restoration and healing, not everything that happens in hospitals is for the better. As many as 400,000 people die every year die in a hospital due to preventable errors. These errors can be something as simple as an incomplete data set, or caused by something like inappropriate malware protection. One wouldn’t think that problems with technology would be so costly as to cause deaths, but it truly happens all the time. Because of this, it is important to keep technology in a hospital well maintained and updated- doing so just might save someone’s life. Here are a few more ways in which technology failures can be fatal:

Alarm Hazards

Because of the vast amount of machinery and technology in each hospital room and hallway, there is an ever-present buzzing that fills the air. These sounds can begin to blur together to a hospital employee who listens to the noise all day. This alarm fatigue can cause an important alarm to go unnoticed, which is why it should be prevented if possible. In order to prevent this from happening, alarms and sounds should be calibrated properly into a system that allows general sounds to fade into the ambiance and important warnings or alarms to stand out and grab attention.

Data Integrity

In any occupation, having false data can be troublesome. But entering the wrong date for a haircut or business meeting is far less problematic than mistyping someone’s blood type. Errors in data entry and upkeep can cause loads of problems in a hospital, so it is important to check them for accuracy as often as possible to ensure the safety of patients.

IV Line Tangles

It isn’t unlikely that a patient needs multiple medications or support fluids being pumped to them through IV lines simultaneously. If IV lines aren’t kept orderly, they can end up being connected to the wrong container or receptacle, which could cause serious problems.

Improper Decontamination

After surgical instruments are used they are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, but some tools can be hard to clean correctly. Endoscopes, for example, have narrow channels that can be pretty tough to clean out. While this seems like a problem that would occur due to accident, accidents are hard to blame when life has been lost. It is the hospitals responsibility to properly train all employees on equipment maintenance and cleaning; and to develop protocols that keep these kinds of problems from occurring.

Ventilator Disconnections

When a ventilator disconnects, the patient is no longer receiving oxygen. This can cause serious damage to the brain which will often result in death. It is important that ventilators are properly hooked up, and are backed up with ancillary notification systems so that the hospital staff can hear them.

Patient-Handling Devices

Patient-handling devices can be anything from a stretcher to a mattress, but improper usage of them can result in patient or employee injury. Patient-handling injuries accounted for 25 percent of all Workers’ Compensation claims in the healthcare industry, according to a 2011 study done by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Dose Creep

This is when patients are exposed to radiation through attempts to improve the quality of an x-ray scan. With the right equipment, this wouldn’t be a problem, as long as the equipment is kept up to date, calibrated, and is used properly by the staff. If new equipment isn’t quite an option, clinicians are encouraged to utilize the standardized exposure index and use a dose that is as low as reasonably achievable.

Complications with Robotic Surgery

Simply put, surgeries performed by robots are very different than surgeries performed by humans. The surgery staff should be thoroughly trained on how to utilize robotic equipment properly.


As technology begins to tie together different types of tech together through more and more network connectivity, it also becomes more at risk of invasion via malware or hacking. As in any case, protection against those sorts of things typically consists of firewalls, passwords, and a strong IT guy.

Overwhelmed Recall

With a large amount of technology being constantly pushed into hospitals, at times it must be pulled due to a safety concern or problem. When a recall is made, it is important that hospitals pay attention and respond in a timely manner. Use of any equipment that has been recalled can lead to a malfunction that may endanger a patient’s life.