Docs ignoring majority of medication safety alerts, study shows

Share this article:
Physicians are overriding a vast majority of safety alerts about potentially bad drug interactions, a new three-state study finds. Doctors, probably more annoyed than enlightened, instead are relying on their own judgment rather than that of commercial services, researchers said in last week's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Investigators examined prescribing practices of nearly 3,000 doctors in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who submitted 3.5 million prescriptions over the first nine months of 2006. Researchers said doctors overrode more than 90% of the nearly 235,000 drug interaction alerts and 77% of drug allergy cautions.

"The sheer volume of alerts generated by electronic prescribing systems stands to limit the safety benefits," said lead study author Dr. Thomas Isaac, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Too many alerts are generated for unlikely events, which could lead to alert fatigue. Better decision support programs will generate more pertinent alerts, making electronic prescribing more effective and safer."

The researchers said medication safety alerts could be improved by reclassifying frequently overridden alerts, giving doctors a way to suppress certain alerts for medications already cleared, and customizing alerts based on a doctor's specialty.
Share this article:

More in News

'Minor' issues at the nursing home can cause disastrous care transitions, expert warns

'Minor' issues at the nursing home can cause ...

What may appear to be minor administrative problems in a nursing home - a fax machine locked away at night or no one designated to copy paperwork - can cause ...

Long-term care facilities approach 80% worker flu vaccination rate after handing power ...

Fourteen long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania dramatically increased their staff flu vaccination rate by having a regional pharmacy take over the process, according to a report issued Thursday by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHQR).

RACs were 'most improved' healthcare auditors for getting back money in 2013, ...

Medicare Recovery Audit Contractors dramatically stepped up their overpayment recoveries last year, returning nearly $487 million more to the government than they did in 2012, according to a new report from a federal watchdog agency.