Warning! Warning! EHR Alert Fatigue!

Electronic health records (EHRs) are causing “alert fatigue.” They send so many prescribing alerts that health care providers often override them, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Unfortunately, the overrides occur even for important drugs. “Almost three-quarters of alerts were overridden, and 40% of the overrides were not appropriate,” the study states.

This hassle factor is not new, with doctors reporting that they are forced to override EHR alerts as far back as the early 2000s. Researchers looked at prescribing alerts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston from 2009 to 2012. They limited their focus to Level 2 alerts, which put a hold on dispensing the drug until the prescribing physician can explain why it needs to be prescribed. (Level 1 alerts basically cancel the prescription, while Level 3 alerts are just FYI reminders.)

Source: Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association

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