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.

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