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Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the top of patients safety concerns in 2021

top 10 patient safety concern ECRIEvery year, ECRI publishes a list of the top 10 patients safety concerns. This year the number one safety concern is the disparity of treatments based on races and ethnicities. The maternal mortality for example is 3.3 times higher for black mothers than white ones.  The Covid19 crisis also highlighted this concern with a much higher number of black and Latino Americans dying from the disease.  While looking at Covid19 deaths in the US, 32.5% of the victims are from Hispanic descent while Hispanics represent 18.5 % of the US population. Race disparities are also significant while looking at deaths from strokes. While black adults are 50% more likely to have a stroke than white adults,  black men are 60 % more likely to die from it than white men and black women 30% more than white women. Health organizations must incorporate health equality in their strategic planning.

The top 2 patient safety concern identified by ECRI is the emergency preparedness and response in aging services. The covid19 pandemic and previous hurricane situations have shown that aging services such as nursing homes and other elderly facilities are not well prepared for emergency situations.  Plans must be developed and communicated to all parties from resident, to staff, families, public and emergency responders.

The top 3 patient safety concerns that were uncovered during the actual pandemic is that, globally, the US Health system was absolutely not ready for a pandemic. From the inability to triage and plan patients flow, under capacities, inadequate supplies of medical equipment, mortuary mismanagement and the mishandling of infection prevention and control, the crisis showed that pandemic preparedness across the health system is a major patient safety concern.

Supply chain interruptions was the top 4 patient safety concern for 2021 followed by drug shortages. During the crisis more and more hospitals using telehealth were confronted with telehealth workflow challenges such as poor Wi-Fi, inappropriate monitoring or availability of monitors in rooms, language issues and privacy concerns. Modification of medical devices has lead to serious harm to patients. Error of dosage and dosage frequency during  Methotrexate Therapy for cancer patients and more recently for some patients suffering from autoimmune diseases was also on the top 10 patient safety list for 2021. Infections caused by peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVCs) that can sometimes be deadly were listed as a top 9 patient safety concern and infection risks from aerosol generating procedures was the last patient safety concern on the ECRI list, mainly because of the actual pandemic.

The detailed report of the ECRI Institute can be found here