EHR Alerts-Do They Create Fatigue and Put patients at Risk?
Many of the EHRs that you will purchase have a strong selling point of promoting patient safety. That patient safety is accomplished through the use of alerts. Some of those alerts could warn the physician or their staff that something could possibly be wrong. It could be anything from two medicines that are contraindicated to a blood pressure machine that beeps an alarm that the BP is too high or low.
So really is that too many alerts? No, those are not. However, there are many frivolous alerts that are installed into software and hardware. It’s a great selling point as well as helpful to the staff so they are warned that something could be wrong.
Of course everyone knows that you cannot rely on machines or programs 100% of the time. Healthcare workers have gone through many years of school and have a knowledge base that is untouched by any machine or software.
These alerts are not going away anytime soon. In the meantime you will need to pull up your socks, cinch up your belt and put on the preverbal grin and bear with technology just a little longer until standards are made a little more strict on the software and hardware being sold by the vendors.
I would recommend talking with your vendors and seeing if there is a way to turn off alerts that are not needed. Those are up to you and your staff as to which alerts might need to be turned off as to not compromise patient safety.
Think of it this way, you are driving down the road and you go three blocks. In those three blocks you are stopped by two stop signs and one traffic light. Are there too many alerts/warnings in the three blocks traveled or are they there for a reason. Only the people who put them there and have the knowledge and background of their education would be able to answer that question.
Hang in there, and write to everyone you know and have them send recommendations to the federal Health IT Standards committee. You might just be able to get them to make a recommendation or two to the National Coordinator for consideration of too many needless alerts.