February 22, 2021 -- PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA—A collaborative of national health IT safety experts has released new guidance aimed at improving patient safety by reducing the overwhelming number of alert notifications from computerized ordering systems in healthcare. While alerts can facilitate patient safety, they may also contribute to alert fatigue and clinician burden, says ECRI, the nation’s most trusted voice in healthcare.
ECRI’s Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multi-stakeholder collaborative that sets priorities in health IT safety, established a six-month virtual workgroup last year focused on finding ways to reduce alert fatigue associated with Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems. Their just-released white paper, Safe Practices to Reduce CPOE Alert Fatigue through Monitoring, Analysis, and Optimization, outlines the workgroup’s processes and key recommendations that provider organizations can take to improve safety now and in the future.
“Alert fatigue is a common occurrence for physicians and healthcare professionals and in extreme cases, can be linked to unintended consequences,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer, ECRI. “Clearly, clinicians are under enormous stress in this era of COVID-19 and we expect that these new safe practice recommendations will help keep patients safer.”
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The multi-stakeholder workgroup, chaired by John D. McGreevey III, MD, at Penn Medicine and Adam Wright, PhD, at Vanderbilt University, set out to fulfill two goals: (1) Promote patient safety by optimizing necessary, clinically important alerts and (2) Promote clinician wellness and health IT safety.
“In order to narrow the scope of the project, we looked at alerts associated with CPOE because these are the most common alerts that clinicians experience. CPOE alerts can include drug interactions, drug dosing alerts, diagnostic and treatment alerts, and alerts based on disease or condition,” says Penn Medicine’s McGreevey. “These alerts serve as prompts or reminders that can advise clinicians about safety considerations in the care of the patient.”
The white paper outlines the workgroup’s four safe practice recommendations, strategies to address these recommendations, and actions for their implementation. The safe practices include the following:
Governance—Identify, develop, and execute a Clinical Decision Support (CDS) and knowledge base governance plan
Monitoring—Gather data and information using CDS-specific metrics and other tools to identify real-time or near real-time CDS alert functioning and impact