Alert Fatigue

There is a new term going around in medicine.  It is called “alert fatigue”.   I had blogged before about nurses having alarm alert fatigue in Boston.  With so many monitors on so many patients the nurses were constantly dashing to see patients for overly sensitive warnings.  This led them to start missing or ignoring some of those warnings.   Now physicians are having the same alert fatigue with their EMRs.  The damn things are so sensitive to any drug interaction that it seems that they have pop up warnings any time you touch the damn thing.  As this article in the American Medical News states, “The alerts are designed to inform physicians of possible patient safety issues, but their frequency and often lack of necessity make them the electronic equivalent of the boy who cried wolf”.   It looks like research is ongoing to cut these alerts down so that we doctors can actually pay attention to the ones that matter.   The problem with the the current system is that EVERYONE is covering their asses and no one wants to get sued.  The only way for the EMR companies to protect themselves is to warn about everything.    Once again, litigation wags the dog.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  1 comment for “Alert Fatigue

  1. Steve Smith
    April 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Pharmacists have dealt with alert fatigue for years. Drug interaction software used in most community pharmacies is so bad that it alerts for “interactions” that are theoretical and unproven. Then when the real interaction hits, we risk missing them. I used to hear the term “artificial intelligence” as the software that would help us make decisions easier. Intelligence that is artificial is what you get when computer engineers without a healthcare background try to make software practical.

Comments are closed.