Search Is On to Cure EHR Alert Fatigue

Almost every physician who has typed orders into an electronic health record or e-prescribing system probably has experienced so-called alert fatigue — the frustration of warning after warning popping up before that order is accepted. 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.

As researchers and health care organizations work to alleviate alert fatigue, it’s clear that the answer is to create systems that take human behavior and supplemental patient data into account when writing rules that decide when and why an alert is fired off. That way, the alerts could have more success in their purpose: protecting patient safety.

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