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Hidden failure

From HTMcommunityDB.org

A hidden failure is a failure mode that will not be evident (obvious) to the user under normal circumstances if it occurs on its own (RCM term). Logically, total failures of the equipment are obvious (evident) to the user.

Hidden failures are more likely to occur in the more complex devices, such as patient monitoring systems with multiple electronic modules, where one module failing may degrade the overall performance of the device in a way that is perhaps unlikely to be noticed by the user. For example, a heart rate alarm that has malfunctioned so that it does not go off at the set limit will be a hidden failure because the failure will not be evident until the alarm function is checked. Depending on the nature and extent of the consequences, hidden failures may or may not be important. For example, a hidden failure that has a significant effect on the output of a therapeutic device, such as a defibrillator or an electrosurgical unit, could have a serious adverse patient safety consequence. On the other hand, a hidden failure that affects the output of a device such as a patient warming blanket that has a much lower potential to harm the patient, may not be subject to a periodic performance check and may well go unnoticed for some time.

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