Automated detection tools reduce adverse drug events, curb alert fatigue

Automated electronic detection tools can help providers to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The researchers, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and elsewhere, note that such programs have proven successful in the past, but wanted to see if they could use electronic health records to create an algorithm that would automatically detect overdoses and adverse drug events, as well as lessen the number of medication alerts.

Fatigue from too many alerts and alarms, FierceHealthIT has previously reported, is a pressing problem at hospitals today.

After developing the automated electronic algorithm, the researchers were able to find clinically relevant overdoses of several antibiotics. They enhanced previous overdose detection efforts by adding in Medication Administration Record, as well as putting clinical overdose algorithms on top of orders in the clinical decisions support systems.

Such modifications, they say, led to decreased alert burden and improvements in response to decision support alerts.

“The success of this test case suggests that gains are possible in reducing medication errors and improving patient safety with automated algorithm-based detection systems," the authors say. "Follow-up studies will determine if the positive effects of the system persist and if these changes lead to improved safety outcomes."

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract