Staffing Tops ECRI 2022 Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns List for First Time AJN Off the Charts blog

Staffing: the problem has ‘grown exponentially.’

Each year, ECRI Institute creates a list of top 10 patient safety concerns in order “to support organizations in their efforts to proactively identify and respond to threats to patient safety.” Over the years, some repeat offenders have made the cut, for example managing behavioral health, patient falls, and issues related to infection control.

Some of these concerns again appear on the 2022 top 10 patient safety concerns list, but the list also has some notable first-time offenders—a fact that reflects the conditions in which we’ve been living over the past two years during this global pandemic: These include COVID-19’s effect on clinicians’ mental health, vaccine coverage gaps, and supply chain disruptions, to name a few.

However, the number one concern this year is one that has been a central and unrelenting issue for nurses, even before the pandemic—staffing shortages.

According to the ECRI:

“The number one topic on this year’s list has been steadily growing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts patients and staff on all levels: staffing shortages…Prior to 2021, there was a growing shortage of both clinical and non-clinical staff, but the problem has grown exponentially. In early January 2022, it was estimated that 24% of US hospitals were critically understaffed, while 100 more facilitates anticipated facing critical staff shortages within the following week.”

2022 top patient safety concerns

  1. Staffing shortages
  2. COVID-19 effects on health care 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 health care–associated pneumonia
  7. Human factors in operationalizing telehealth
  8. International supply chain disruptions
  9. Products subject to emergency use authorization
  10. Telemetry monitoring

The full executive report, which is available for download at the ECRI Institute website, details the rationale for each safety concern and offers practical recommendation for each item on the list. Also look for a more detailed overview of these safety concerns in In the News in AJN’s upcoming June issue.


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Managing editor, American Journal of Nursing

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