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Top 10 new technologies hospitals have to watch to prevent negligence

As medical technologies are getting increasingly sophisticated so do the risks for hospital negligence and medical malpractice. The ECRI Institute recently released its 2016_Top_10_Hospital_C-Suite_Watch_List and going through this list almost feels like reading a sci-fi novel. Link to 30 page detailed report on blog.  Here is an overlook of the top 10 new medical technologies that hospitals should put on their watch list:

  1. Mobile Stroke Units are high tech ambulances specially outfitted with equipment allowing patients to be diagnosed and if necessary treated directly at their home by a specifically trained staff.  The units are also equipped with telemedecine technology that allows the mobile staff to communicate directly with remote clinical personnel. Strokes are a leading cause of death and traumatic brain injury. Timing is crucial and a reduction of time between the diagnosis and the treatment can save lives and reduce severe injuries.
  2. Medical Device Cybersecurity is a major risk to patients that hospitals have been so far unable to fully control. Medical devices such as a pace-maker or infusion pump are connected through a wire or wifi  to the Electronic Health Record of a patient. These devices can often be too easily hacked. Thieves can then use the personal data for identity theft or to invade the home of the patient when he or she is in the hospital.  In other cases it may even be a murder weapon. Dick Cheney’s doctor had the wifi disabled on his pace-maker due to fear he may be hacked to be assassinated.
  3. Wireless Wearable Sensors allow doctors to monitor inpatients and outpatients health in continuous time. It may allow for patients early release and therefore cost reduction.  Wireless wearable sensors come in two types: movement/activity sensors and physiologic sensors. The most recent movement sensors are so sophisticated that they can detect normal movements from tonic-clonic movements in someone suffering from a neurological condition such as Alzheimers or Epilepsy. Physiological sensors analyse small amounts of body fluid to detect a change in patient status.
  4. Miniature Leadless Pacemakers are revolutionary devices that do not require surgery. These new types of pacemakers are still in development and so far are only authorized for use for 15% of the patients necessitating such a device. Hospitals should proprely consider product warnings and make sure the patient is eligible for this type of device. Device repositioning and fixation as well as long term safety should be monitored closely.
  5. Blue-violet LED Light Fixtures may be the solution to fight dangerous healthcare-acquired infections and super-bugs such as staphylococcus aureusClostridium difficile and Enterococcus.  Recent studies have shown that, in specific settings,  this new technology can reduce contamination levesl better than other existing technologies. This technology is particularly interesting for burn unit rooms.
  6. High-cost cardiovascular drugs such as  PCSK9 inhibitors and angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors may help reduce patients re-admission rates. Patients with high cholesterol are most of the time treated with statin doses. PCSK9 inhibitors are a different option for patients who do not respond well to statins. The angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors are a new heart failure drug. Its the first heart failure drug to be approved over the lat 20 years. These drugs are still very new and patients should be monitored very closely for adverse effects.
  7. Rapid changes in robotic surgery offer more options than before. The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System that was introduced on the market more than 15 years ago starts to seem obsolete compared to the new models that are about to enter the market in 2016.
  8. Spectral CT scanner which has been on the market for 10 year now are being improved with new technology and tools and a great deal of marketing is being promoting them. These scanners are supposedly providing improved soft-tissue contrast and tissue characterization. However so far clinical studies have been weak at demonstrating the benefits of such technology.
  9. Injected Bioabsorbable Hydrogel (SpaceOAR) protects the healthy rectum tissues from patients undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. 20% of prostate patients who are undergoing radiation therapy suffer rectum injuries causing pain, diarrhea, urgency and bleeding. This gel limits the risk of rectal injuries during radiation procedures.
  10. Warm Donor Organ Perfusion Systems to prevent organs from being damaged during transportation. Organ transportation is extremely challenging. 2/3 of the lungs and hearts that are donated have to be discarded because they were damaged during transportation . This new technology is suppposed to impoved the viability of donated organs.  While conventional storage is very basic and use ice and coolers, the new systems are providing warm perfusion of donated organs. The technology is available for lungs and hearts and should soon be available for other organs such as liver.