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ECRI's Top 10 Patient Safety Risks for 2022
Patient Safety

ECRI's Top 10 Patient Safety Risks for 2022

An important part of maintaining patient safety is establishing the shared belief that despite the high-risk environment in healthcare, patient safety is possible, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Creating awareness of common problems and opening a dialogue about prevention, learning, and solutions can help.

To that end, ECRI annually publishes a list of its top 10 patient safety concerns, and we are pleased to share the 2022 list with you here. ECRI analyzed a wide scope of data, including scientific literature, patient safety events or concerns reported to or investigated by ECRI, client research requests and queries, and other internal and external data sources.

Like it has done to almost everything else in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped this year’s list. The annual list is usually topped by clinical issues caused by device malfunctions or medical errors. But this year, staffing shortages and healthcare workers’ mental health top a list of patient safety concerns released by ECRI. Inadequate staffing is jeopardizing patient safety. Due to staffing shortages, many patients are waiting longer for care, even in life-threatening emergencies, or simply being turned away.Our researchers note that these concerns are not new, but the pandemic exacerbated them, and previously there were not well-documented. With more healthcare workers planning on leaving the industry, ECRI experts say patients could face even higher risks without proactive solutions.

“Shortages in the healthcare workforce and mental health challenges were broadly known and well-documented for years,” said Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “Both physicians and nurses were at risk of burnout, emotional exhaustion, and depression prior to 2020, but the pandemic made both issues significantly worse.”

“Healthcare and government leaders now must aggressively manage these challenges amidst a lingering pandemic and a weakened health system by prioritizing recruitment, retention, and clinician resilience,” Schabacker said. “As leaders, their most important job is ensuring that patient health and safety are top priorities.”

“ECRI’s report is a roadmap to help prioritize patient safety initiatives and allocate necessary resources that accelerates organizations in their total system approach to safety,” said Brigitta Mueller, MD, executive director of patient safety, risk and quality at ECRI. “We are here to help healthcare and government leaders as they finally address these longstanding issues in a comprehensive, forward-thinking way.”

We'll be delving deeper into each of these concerns in the coming weeks, so be sure to read our upcoming blogs for information and resurces that can help your team improve patient and staff safety. 

The top 10 patient safety concerns for 2022 are:

  1. Staffing shortages
  2. COVID-19 effects on healthcare workers’ mental health
  3. Bias and racism in addressing patient safety
  4. Vaccine coverage gaps and errors
  5. Cognitive biases and diagnostic error
  6. Nonventilator healthcare-associated pneumonia
  7. Human factors in operationalizing telehealth
  8. International supply chain disruptions
  9. Products subject to emergency use authorization
  10. Telemetry monitoring