AAMI News December 2017

Cybersecurity Threats Top List of 2018 Health Technology Hazards

The Top 10

  1. Cybersecurity threats

  2. Failure to consistently and effectively reprocess endoscopes

  3. Mattresses and covers that may be infected by body fluids and microbiological contaminants

  4. Missed alarms due to inappropriately configured secondary notification devices and systems

  5. Improper cleaning of medical devices and other equipment

  6. Unholstered active electrosurgical electrodes

  7. Inadequate use of digital imaging tools potentially leading to unnecessary radiation exposure

  8. Workarounds that can negate the safety advantages of bar-coded medication administration systems

  9. Flaws in medical device networking

  10. Slow adoption of safer enteral feeding connectors

Ransomware and other cyberthreats are the number one health technology hazard to watch out for in 2018, according to an annual report published by the ECRI Institute. The report warned that malware can significantly impact healthcare delivery by rendering health information technology (IT) systems unusable.

“In the healthcare environment, ransomware and other types of malware attacks are more than just an IT nightmare. They are potential patient safety crises that can disrupt healthcare delivery operations, placing patients at risk,” ECRI said in a statement accompanying the report, Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2018.

Insufficient endoscope reprocessing remained in the number two spot this year after being listed in eight of the 10 previous editions of the report. “Healthcare facilities continue to struggle with consistently and effectively cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing these instruments between uses,” according to ECRI.

In its report, the institute focused on two main areas of concern:

  • The importance of proper cleaning. “If biologic debris and other foreign material is not cleaned from the endoscope first, residual soil can harden, making subsequent disinfection ineffective,” ECRI wrote.
  • Instrument storage after reprocessing, as “moisture trapped in the channels of an endoscope can promote the proliferation of any microbes not eradicated by reprocessing.”

The full list was selected based on factors such as the severity, frequency, breadth, insidiousness, and profile of the risk. “All the items on our list represent problems that can be avoided or risks that can be minimized through the careful management of technologies,” ECRI said.