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Information overdose

In Health industry on February 13, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , ,

Is technology responsible for information overdoses among doctors?  Or perhaps ‘information adverse reactions’ would be more apt here.  

A ‘retrospective analysis of 233 537 medication safety alerts generated by 2872 clinicians’ published in the Archives of Internal Medicine caused a stir recently because it concluded that ‘clinicians override most medication alerts’ on their electronic prescribing systems.  These systems alert doctors when a patient may be allergic to a medicine or if they are already on a medicine that may cause an interaction.  The results of the study were that ‘clinicians accepted 9.2% of drug interaction alerts and 23.0% of allergy alerts’ – so they rejected the vast majority of the alerts then.  Why?

Gruntdoc (why does that moniker always make me smile) and others have blogged about this from the doctor’s point of view.   It seems that the electronic prescribing systems have a glitch–they are far too cautious to be useful in clinical practice.  They might flag a possible interaction where there is no evidence for one (but, let’s face it, that kind of research tends either not to be done or is a secondary offshoot of other research).

Also doctors tended to ignore the alerts if the patient had previously had the medication without any problem (well duh).

I am not sure, as this study was American, if these electronic systems are in use in the UK.  It seems like they need some tweaking so as not to conflict with common sense.

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