in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

According to AMA News:
“A Dept. of Veterans Affairs-funded study in the April issue of the International Journal of Medical Informatics sought to find the reasons behind a prescriber’s interaction with an alert to see why that person would ignore it and how to ensure more meaningful warnings.”

Hmm, I’m sure that was money well spent.

Oh the agony…”alert fatigue”.

Maybe we should call it EHR Alert Fatigue Syndrom: EHRAFS.

That’s right, call it a syndrome and people will take it seriously.

What is this?

Essentially, as a tool to “help” you, EHRs have all sorts of alerts & warnings, especially when medication is entered.

But wait, that sounds really helpful doesn’t it?

The Problem

An EHR vendor is scared to death of lawsuits, they are going to be overly conservative on the warnings.

The Action

You know how you ignore those warnings in Windows – it seems like you get so many of them, rather than read the warning, you just click the OK button.  Note: scam artists know this and build this known habit pattern into their systems making it easier for them to breach your computer.

An even better example is those “agreements” when you download or update your software.  You now, 10 pages of legal statements that you “agree” to after your “read” it.  Everyone knows nobody reads these.

Similarly, on your EHR, as message after message pops up, they are ignored.  I see it everyday with my clients.  “Nuisance” error messages are ignored…which also means “real” error messages are ignored.

The Result

I refer to this issues as the “hyper click finger”.  Rather than take a moment to read the error message, a quick click of the OK button and “all is well”.

The real problem here is the risk this opens to you & your office to.
IF there is a pop up message and
IF you click OK,
THEN IF there is an issue, by you clicking OK you claim to have read the warning and ignored it or over ride it.

What is one to do about this?

  1. Don’t discount any popup message
  2. Lead by example Docs
  3. Quit hurrying – I know you need to crank through the patients, but for every error message you ignore, you ratchet up your risk level.

About John Brewer

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