“Electronic health record (EHR) alerts serve a significant purpose, but they can also result in EHR clinical decision alert fatigue,” says EHR Intelligence’s Christopher Jason. In his recent analysis, he references Brigham and Women’s Hospital where physicians report one alert for every two medication orders, yet they override 98 percent of these notifications. This statistic, according to the Hospital’s Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine David Bates, indicates clinicians “aren’t fully processing what the alerts are saying,” which can harm patient care.
Further, as noted by Stanford University health IT professionals, the EHR is a vital tool for making clinical decisions and providing quality patient care so it’s critical that hospitals revisit, and then optimize, its use. The following recommendations cited by Jason may assist in reducing alert fatigue:
- Health systems should seek physician feedback regarding their current use of EHRs
- Ensure collaboration between health IT, EHR professionals and clinicians
- Consider customizing alerts to reduce notifications
- Involve end-users with design, testing and implementation of EHR alerts
- Provide training and support
- Evaluate the impact on workflow, override rates and patient outcomes
Experts add that, like all other health IT, EHRs require ongoing assessment and updates to ensure adherence to evolving medical standards.
MLMIC recognizes that healthcare professionals face challenges in the use of EHRs. Minimizing alert fatigue is recognized as an ongoing risk issue in healthcare and efforts to reduce its impact on medication errors, as well as the overall health and safety of patients, continue. We support our insured facilities, physicians, and other stakeholders in their ongoing efforts to assess and improve the functionality of EHR systems to not only enhance patient safety but improve the experience and ease of use for clinicians.
Additionally, we offer a number of resources to aid physicians in mitigating risk associated with EHR use:
- Patient Photos Displayed in EHRs Can Enhance Patient Safety, a blog post on the benefits of incorporating patient photographs into the EHR;
- Addressing Inefficiencies and Obstacles Related to EHR Use, a blog post with EHR improvement strategies for ensuring patient safety and reducing burnout; and
- Reducing the Risk of the “Copy and Paste” Function in Electronic Health Records, a risk management tip on the unique liability risks that arise when information is copied and pasted in the EHR.