Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: Many EHR Alerts for Opioids Prove Clinically Inconsequential

November 12, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

One hospital’s commercial electronic health record (EHR) warning system for opioids fired off 123 unnecessary and clinically inconsequential alerts, according to the results of a new study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

In the study, 14 of 4,581 patients experienced an adverse drug event (ADE), with eight due to opioids, and none were preventable by the clinical decision support piece of the commercial electronic health record.

Overall, 98.9 percent of opioid alerts did not result in an actual or averted ADE and 96.3 percent of opioid alerts were overridden. Opioid drug alerts were more likely to be overridden than non-opioid alerts and opioid drug allergy alerts were twice as likely to be overridden. Pharmacists and physicians assistants most frequently overrode opioid drug alerts and residents overrode them the least, according to the research.

"Our electronic health record warning system on opioids is overwhelming providers with unnecessary and clinically inconsequential alerts," said lead study author Emma Genco, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. "The danger here is that medical providers may develop 'alert fatigue,' leading to compromised patient safety. It is well established that clinical decision support prevents adverse drug events, but it is essential that alerting systems be refined to highlight only the clinically significant alerts."

Genco added, “We need to improve the 'signal to noise' ratio of these alerts, especially in the chaotic environment of the emergency department. Interruptions are already a significant fact of life in emergency departments, which is why we need to eliminate the meaningless ones."



ONC National Coordinator Gets Live Look at Carequality Data Exchange

Officials from Carequality have stated that there are now more than 150,000 clinicians across 11,000 clinics and 500 hospitals live on its network. These participants are also able to share health data records with one another, regardless of technology vendor.

American Red Cross, Teladoc to Provide Telehealth Services to Disaster Victims

The American Red Cross announced a partnership with Teladoc to deliver remote medical care to communities in the United States that are significantly affected by disasters.

Report: The Business of Cybercrime in Healthcare is Growing

While stolen financial data still has a higher market value than stolen medical records, as financial data can be monetized faster, there are indications that there is ongoing development of a market for stolen medical data, according to an Intel Security McAfee Labs report.

Phishing Attack at Baystate Health Potentially Exposes Data of 13K Patients

A phishing scam at Baystate Health in Springfield, Mass. has potentially exposed the personal data of 13,000 patients, according to a privacy statement from the patient care organization and a report from MassLive.

New Use Cases Driving Growth in Health Data Exchange through Direct

In an update, DirectTrust reported significant growth in Direct exchange of health information and the number of trusted Direct addressed enabled to share personal health information (PHI) in the third quarter of 2016.

Insurers to CBO: Consider Private Insurers’ Data in Evaluations of Telemedicine

Eleven private insurers, including Aetna, Humana and Anthem, are urging the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to consider the experience of commercial insurers when evaluating the impact of telemedicine coverage in Medicare.