Braun EJ, Singh S, Penlesky AC, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Apr 15.
Early warning systems (EWS) use patient data from the electronic health record to alert clinicians to potential patient deterioration. Twelve months after a new EWS was implemented in one hospital, nurses were interviewed to gather their perspectives on the program experience, utility, and implementation. Six themes emerged: timeliness, lack of accuracy, workflow interruptions, actionability of alerts, underappreciation of core nursing skills, and opportunity cost.
Liu S, Kawamoto K, Del Fiol G, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2022;29:891-899.
Alert fatigue contributes to task burden and can threaten patient safety. In this study, researchers at one academic medical center found that machine learning techniques could enable intelligent filtering of medication alerts and reduce alert volume by 54%.
Wang L, Goh KH, Yeow A, et al. J Med Internet Res. 2022;24:e23355.
Alert fatigue is an increasingly recognized patient safety concern. This retrospective study examined the association between habit and dismissal of indwelling catheter alerts among physicians at one hospital in Singapore. Findings indicate that physicians dismissed 92% of all alerts and that 73% of alerts were dismissed in 3 seconds or less. The study also concluded that a physician’s prior dismissal of alerts increases the likelihood of dismissing future alerts (habitual dismissal), raising concerns that physicians may be missing important alerts.
Bernstein SL, Catchpole K, Kelechi TJ, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:309-318.
Maternal morbidity and mortality continues to be a significant patient safety problem. This mixed-methods study identified system-level factors affecting registered nurses during care of people in labor experiencing clinical deterioration. Task overload, missing or inadequate tools and technology, and a crowded physical environment were all identified as performance obstacles. Improving nurse workload and involving nurses in the redesign of tools and technology could provide a meaningful way to reduce maternal morbidity.
Van De Sijpe G, Quintens C, Walgraeve K, et al. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2022;22:48.
Clinical decision support systems (CDSS) can help identify potential drug-drug interactions (DDI), but they can lead to alert fatigue and threaten patient safety. Based on an analysis of DDI alerts and survey data regarding physician experience using the DDI module in the CDSS, researchers identified barriers (i.e., lack of patient-specific characteristics and DDI-specific screening intervals) that contribute to false-positive alerts and alert fatigue.
Reese T, Wright A, Liu S, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2022;79:1086-1095.
Computerized decision support alerts for drug-drug interactions are commonly overridden by clinicians. This study examined fifteen well-known drug-drug interactions and identified risk factors that could reduce risk in the majority of interactions (e.g., medication order timing, medication dose, and patient factors).
Orenstein EW, Kandaswamy S, Muthu N, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:2654-2660.
Alert fatigue is a known contributor to medical error. In this cross-sectional study, researchers found that custom alerts were responsible for the majority of alert burden at six pediatric health systems. This study also compared the use of different alert burden metrics to benchmark burden across and within institutions.
Alarm fatigue is a pervasive contributor to distractions and error. This discussion examines how, while minimizing nuisance alarms is important, those efforts need to be accompanied by safety culture enhancements to realize lasting progress toward alarm reduction.
Alarm fatigue can lead to distraction and diminish safe care. Based on findings from their Patient Safety Learning Laboratory, the authors used human factors engineering to develop a classification system to organize, prioritize, and discriminate alarm sounds in order to reduce nurse response times.
Lack of timely follow-up of test results is an ongoing patient safety problem in primary care and can lead to missed or delayed diagnoses. This systematic review concluded that follow-up of abnormal mammograms in primary care is suboptimal. Findings from included studies indicate that ethnic minorities and women with lower educational attainment were more likely to have inadequate follow-up. Factors influencing follow-up include physician-patient miscommunication, alert fatigue, difficulty obtaining test results or patient records, and logistical barriers. The authors suggest adopting interventions focused on mitigating factors that negatively impact follow-up, such as patient navigation and case management.
Cerqueira O, Gill M, Swar B, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:1038-1046.
Computerized prescriber order entry (CPOE) systems embedded in electronic health systems alert clinicians to potential safety concerns such as drug-drug interactions or medication dosage errors. Results of this review indicate that alerts influenced prescriber behavior in most of the included studies. However, it is unclear whether these behavioral changes improve patient safety outcomes. Recommendations for future research include randomized controlled trials to determine which alerts maximize patient safety, while minimizing prescribers’ alert fatigue.
Sedlár M. Int J Occup Saf Ergon. 2022;28:1281-1290.
Stress and fatigue experienced by healthcare workers can threaten patient safety. This survey of 131 emergency medical services (EMS) crew members identified a relationship between work-related factors (e.g., stress, fatigue), unsafe behavior, and safety incident involvement. Reducing stress and fatigue and improving cognitive skills, including situation awareness, can improve compliance with safe behaviors.
Co Z, Holmgren AJ, Classen DC, et al. Appl Clin Inform. 2021;12:153-163.
Medication errors occur frequently in ambulatory care settings. This article describes the development and testing of an ambulatory medication safety evaluation tool, which is based on an inpatient version administered by The Leapfrog Group. Pilot testing at seven clinics around the US indicates that clinics struggled in areas of advanced decision support such as drug age and drug monitoring, and that most clinics lacked EHR-based medication reconciliation functions.
Shah SN, Amato MG, Garlo KG, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:1081-1087.
Clinical decision support (CDS) alerts can improve patient safety, and prior research suggests that monitoring alert overrides can identify errors. Over a one-year period, this study found that medication-related CDS alerts associated with renal insufficiency were nearly always deemed inappropriate and were all overridden. These findings highlight the need for improvements in alert design, implementation, and monitoring of alert performance to ensure alerts are patient-specific and clinically appropriate.
Lewandowska K, Weisbrot M, Cieloszyk A, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17:8409.
Alarm fatigue, which can lead to desensitization and threaten patient safety, is particularly concerning in intensive care settings. This systematic review concluded that alarm fatigue may have serious consequences for both patients and nursing staff. Included studies reported that nurses considered alarms to be burdensome, too frequent, interfering with patient care, and resulted in distrust in the alarm system. These findings point to the need for a strategy for alarm management and measuring alarm fatigue.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) can prevent prescribing errors, but patient safety threats persist. Based on qualitative interviews with multidisciplinary prescribers, the authors identified several issues related to CPOE interacting within a complex prescribing environment, including alert fatigue, remote prescribing, and default auto-population of dosages.
Corny J, Rajkumar A, Martin O, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020;27:1695–1704.
Machine learning can improve the accuracy of clinical decision support (CDS) tools. This single-site study used data from the electronic health record (EHR) and clinical pharmacist review to test the accuracy of a hybrid CDS system to identify prescriptions with high risk of medication error. The machine-learning based approach was more accurate than existing techniques such as the traditional CDS system and can improve the reliability of prescription checks in an inpatient setting.
Fleischman W, Ciliberto B, Rozanski N, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2020;38:1072-1076.
In this prospective study, researchers conducted direct observations in one urban, academic Emergency Department (ED) to determine whether and which ED monitor alarms led to observable changes in patients’ care. During 53 hours of observation, there were 1,049 alarms associated with 146 patients, resulting in clinical management changes in 5 patients. Researchers observed that staff did not observably respond to nearly two-thirds of alarms, which may be a sign of alarm fatigue.
Myers LC, Heard L, Mort E. Am J Crit Care. 2020;29:174-181.
This study reviewed medical malpractice claims data between 2007 and 2016 to describe the types of patient safety events involving critical care nurses. Decubitus ulcers were the most common diagnosis in claims involving ICU nurses and compared to nurses in emergency departments and operating rooms, ICU nurses were likely to have a malpractice claim alleging failure to monitor.
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