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J Healthc Risk Manag. 2007;27(4):19-24. doi: 10.1002/jhrm.5600270405.

Technological iatrogenesis: new risks force heightened management awareness.

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  • 1Duke University School of Nursnig, USA.


Iatrogenesis is a term typically reserved to express the state of ill health or the adverse outcome resulting from a medical intervention, or lack thereof. Three types of iatrogenesis are described in the literature: clinical, social and cultural. This paper introduces a fourth type, technological iatrogenesis, or emerging errors stimulated by the infusion of technological innovations into complex healthcare systems. While health information technologies (HIT) have helped to make healthcare safer, this has also produced contemporary varieties of iatrogenic errors and events. The potential pitfalls of technological innovations and risk management solutions to address these concerns are discussed. Specifically, failure mode effect analysis and root cause analysis are discussed as opportunities for risk managers to prevent problems and avert errors from becoming sentinel events.

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