Blog | Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crying wolf: Bypassing EHR drug warnings

WhiteCoats blogs that a recent Archives of Internal Medicine study about the tendency for most doctors to override electronic health record warnings of potential drug interactions, "shows how forcing clinicians to jump through more and more micromanagement and regulatory hoops in order to practice medicine won't necessarily have the intended effect."

The study, which analyzed 233, 537 medication safety alerts generated by 2,872 clinicians in three states in 2006, found that a majority of clinicians bypassed most high-severity DDI and allergy alerts. Researchers concluded that the current warning system falls short of providing meaningful patient protection.

But WhiteCoats counters that since there hasn't been a flood of adverse outcomes reported, maybe the warnings are overblown. Alerts lose power when too many turn out to be theoretical dangers that don't apply to actual individual patients. What do others think? Are electronic reminders of DDIs helpful or just more annoying pop-ups?