Crying Wolf: Over-Alerting by EMRs Is Annoying, Distracting, and Dangerous

Perspective | Peter Kilbridge, MD | May 3, 2011

By now, everyone in HIT has heard about "alert fatigue." What is less widely recognized is just how dangerous it is, both to the health of your clinical IT strategy and to patients themselves. Following the release of a study of deaths due to over-alarming by biomedical equipment in hospitals, the Joint Commission has indicated that it plans to make "alarm fatigue" a special focus area in 2011. EMR-generated alert fatigue can be just as dangerous. With an understanding of its origins and proper attention to system design, over-alerting can be minimized.

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