‘Alert fatigue’ may be detrimental to your health care

| May 25, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

Recent studies of alert fatigue have shown that alerts for drug interactions or incorrect doses are a top safety concern in Knoxville, Tennessee. For example, a teenager was hospitalized as a result of receiving advice to ignore alerts.

Alert fatigue is just now getting recognized as a safety concern

The Joint Commission has alerted health care organizations to pay closer attention to information technology to mitigate the chance that someone experiences alert fatigue. By instilling a sense of responsibility in users and developers alike for technological implementation, the Joint Commission encourages an atmosphere of safety.

This is important because a recent study has shown that alert fatigue is relatively common. It is especially common among health care practitioners because they are so accustomed to alert messages that they cancel them before taking the time to read them.

What does “alert fatigue” mean?

Alert fatigue refers to how health care practitioners become progressively desensitized to alert messages and, therefore, do not respond correctly to the warnings that come up. While most computerized order entry systems are great at lowering the number of incorrect prescriptions given, the alert system is relatively poor. A huge part of why the alert prompts are ignored is because the majority of these prompts are clinically insignificant. Therefore, serious warnings are virtually indistinguishable from useless prompts.

What are some ways to combat alert fatigue?

Alert fatigue can be combated by increasing the specificity of the alert prompt or doing away with insignificant alerts. Another decent suggestion is for only severe alerts to require confirmation. Otherwise, the alerts can get adjusted based on individual, physiological indications. Veterans Affairs tested these improvements, and it instructed the physicians on how to manage the alerts. Implementing these suggestions lowers the overall medical malpractice claims made.

The medical alert system needs a few tweaks before it is fully effective for most people. If you have received poor advice because your physician ignored alerts, that may be sufficient grounds for a medical malpractice case.