Customized drug alerts protect patients from medication errors, study finds

Researchers from Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital used a comprehensive method to reduce drug interaction alerts clinicians receive, improving EHRs to lower alert fatigue and boost patient safety, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

"In some instances, clinicians are getting a constant stream of alerts that aren't appropriate for their patient, leading them to disregard the alerts," said senior author James Hoffman, PharmD, St. Jude's chief patient safety officer. "This type of alert fatigue can lead to patient safety concerns."

For the study, the researchers collected input on the EHR's drug interaction alerts from three sources: a validated survey instrument, an advisory group of St. Jude clinicians and data within the EHR that captured which alerts clinicians most often ignored or overrode.

Overall, the research team made 26 changes that affected 47 percent of alerts. They also found that alert overrides decreased by 40 percent.

Changes to the system included removing unnecessary alerts and adding context to existing alerts to make them more useful for clinicians.

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